New Illinois governor wants Burris to resign

On Friday, Pat Quinn called for his state's junior senator to step down; he wants the Legislature to empower him to call a special election.

By Alex Koppelman

Published February 20, 2009 6:45PM (EST)

Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., is rapidly finding himself a man without friends. After the revelations last weekend and earlier this week that he hadn't been forthcoming about his contact with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his aides, not to mention his attempts to raise money for Blagojevich, he's faced a growing chorus of calls to resign. Friday brought the most significant example of that to date.

At a press conference, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who replaced Blagojevich, said Burris should step down "as quickly as possible for the best interests of Illinois ... This should not be a matter that takes weeks."

If Burris does resign, Quinn wants the state Legislature to give him the power to appoint a temporary successor, who'd remain in office until a special election could be held. Illinois Republicans believe the governor has the authority to order a special election anyway, but he said Friday he disagrees.

While Burris is being pressured to resign, that doesn't actually force him to do so. Remember that the Democratic leadership in the Senate didn't want to seat him, or anyone appointed by Blagojevich, but he took the appointment and pushed for the seat anyway.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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