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Blagojevich says Sen. Reid sought to influence his Obama replacement pick

A quick update on the Democrats' molten stew that is the scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his controversial appointment of Roland Burris as the state's new senator to fill the vacant seat of President-elect Barack Obama.

One, word leaked that Burris, a former Illinois attorney general and comptroller, at his initiative will meet with Democratic Senate leaders including Majority leader Harry Reid in Washington on Wednesday, the day after the new Congress convenes. Burris has vowed to take his seat. Reid has vowed to block Burris from doing that, with armed guards if necessary.

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada

Two, Blagojevich sources threw another brushback fastball past Reid, saying that the Senate Democratic leader had called the accused Democratic governor shortly before his arrest on charges of conspiring to sell government business and favors.

According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Reid attempted to influence the governor's nominee choice by expressing serious reservations over the 2010 electability of three potential Blagojevich picks -- Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis and state Senate President Emil Jones.

All three men happen to be black, as is Burris.

Reid is said to have told Blagojevich he had more confidence in the electoral popularity of Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, who like Reid is white, or Tammy Duckworth, an Asian American who heads Illinois' Veteran Affairs Department.

A Reid spokesman confirmed the conversation but declined to list the names of those discussed.

Blagojevich is playing a typically hardball brand of Illinois politics, as The Ticket noted here the other day. By naming the 71-year-old Burris, who's never lost an election to a Republican, Blagojevich places Reid in the uncomfortable political position of blocking an experienced black political vote-getter from replacing a black and becoming the Senate's only black member.

Several African American House members of the Black Caucus have called for Burris' seating. And the governor's office now blithely suggests that Reid has a conflict of interest.

A Blagojevich spokesman said, "It seems to the governor that Sen. Reid has a horse in the race and Roland Burris isn't one of them."

In a strongly worded statement late Saturday night Reid accused the governor of "leaking and distorting conversations."

Reid added: "Gov. Blagojevich's efforts to try to tarnish others while the cloud of suspicion continues to grow over him are shameful, as are his efforts to further betray the public trust and sow seeds of division."

The now thoroughly racially tinged controversy is more than likely to come up this morning when Burris appears on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Associated Press (Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada).

 
Comments () | Archives (14)

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Don't forget Reid's nasty comments about Clarence Thomas a few years ago. He talked about how poorly written Justice Thomas' opinions were, yet was unable to give even one example. Lest one think this was just partisan, he praised Justice Scalia's writings at the same time. There is a strong likelihood of actual racism on the part of Senator Reid.

I wonder why people are not calling Mr.Burris to resign and wait for more clear and untainted process to choose next senator from Illinois. His acceptance of senate seat from Blagojevich shows serious lack of good judgement on his part and basically disqualifies him as a potential candidate for this seat in the future.

Can I just say... I am loving Blagojevich !

He is really putting the hurt to the Democrats.........

I love it!

Reid is a disgrace to this country and the people of Nevada. His views on any matter should be ignored. Seat Burris, and get on with the matters at hand.

It is very misleading to describe Burris as having "never lost an election to a Republican." It is equally misleading to describe him as "an experienced...political vote-getter." In 1984, Burris ran for the U.S. Senate and lost in the primaries to Paul Simon. Then, in 1994, he ran for Governor of Illinois and lost in the primaries. In 1995, the following year, he ran for Mayor of Chicago and lost to another Democratc, Richard Daley. In 1998, he ran for Governor of Illinois and lost in the primaries. He ran for Governor again in 2002 and lost in the primaries to Blagojevich. Sure, he's never lost to a Republican. Most of the time he is unable to make it that far!

Malcolm.....stop with the talking points!!!

Here's how I think the issue should be resolved. First, the Democrats in the Senate should use delaying tactics to prevent Burris from taking his seat. Then, they should wait until Blagojevich either resigns or is impeached. Then, once Blago is gone, they should encourage the new Governor to appoint Burris.

The Klansman, Harry Reid, has all but put a FACE on it - “ANYONE but a NEGRO”. And I'm pretty SURE that the OTHER U.S. Senator from this great State of IL, Richard “DICK” Durbin WOULD concur. Ain't that right DICK???

Partners in CRIME. Ha, Ha

Only a black candidate can replace Obama? That sounds racist to me. Odd that you distort "electability" to mean white. Considering the Senate seat was vacated by a black man who went on to be elected president. You're twisting the facts here and you know it. The LA Times deserves to be bankrupt for publishing nonsense like this. Misleading headlines to get the click thru, but no real substance or intelligence to the writing that follows. The Times mistakenly believes that online journalism doesn't need to have any standards. That's why you're going broke.

Har har har. Hope and change, change and hope. Meet the new boss, just like the old boss.

This is the type of calculated politics that got Superintendent Brewer in LAUSD elected in the first place. The School Board knew any attempts to put pressure on him or the board by the Mayor could be deflected with a "racism" accusation. And it worked. Burris should be ashamed of allowing himself to be a pawn in this game, or is his hubris that great?

This is all great entertainment, I suppose, but it's totally lacking in national political substance.

Having "tried to influence" Blago is not a crime, it's a politician doing his job. Now, if he offered a quid pro quo... but since this story originates with Blago, shouldn't you look at this with some circumspection?

Blagojevich is gutsy and ballsy, unlike many politicians who are spineless and slippery.

I hate to bring this up but Blagojevich has not been convicted of a crime and it looks like the prosecutor is having trouble filing charges as he is requesting more time from the judge.

Talk is cheap and it looks like Blagojevich was mostly brash phone talk on Obama's vacant senate seat. He appears to have gone up to but did not cross the line that separates politician from criminal.

Bottom line: Reid has to seat Blagojevich's pick to replace Obama.

Blagojevich/Rangel 2016!

Reid and former klansman Robert Byrd bring back very painfull memories.Democrat governors,fund raisers,investment bankers etc are up to their eyesballs in
accusations of massive corruption.Add the antidemocratic behavior of California's lunatic AG refusing to uphold the voter's verdict to the racist rumblings
of the above 2 senators and you have the recipee for disaster as this country has never seen the likes.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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