Burris flap raises Dem racial questions

Jan. 4, 2009 at 2:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The attempt to seat former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris in the U.S. Senate is raising difficult racial questions for Democrats, observers say.

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Burris, an African-American, last week to fill out the U.S. Senate term of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, even though Blagojevich has been charged by federal prosecutors with attempting to "sell" the seat in exchange for political or personal favors. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed not to seat Burris, the Washington publication Politico reported Sunday.

Some top advisers to Burris, however, suggested to Politico that Reid doesn't want another African-American to succeed Obama, the country's first African-American elected president.

"It's interesting that all those who are viable are white women and the ones who are unacceptable are black men," said Prince Riley, a senior consultant to Burris.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday that Reid, while talking to Blagojevich before the governor was charged, argued against appointing black candidates U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis, while favoring state Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, who is Thai, or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is white.

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