Saturday, November 6, 2010

Will Burris be “rollin’, rollin’, rollin’” back to City Hall for mayoral bid?

He’s got the itch. He wants to be an elected official.

BURRIS: Will he drop from 36 percent to 1 percent?
I think it is pretty clear that Roland Burris intends to campaign for mayor of Chicago in the 2011 municipal elections.

BURRIS IS OUR incumbent senator who is going to be replaced sometime around the end of the month, enabling Sen.-elect Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to gain about one month’s seniority on the other Senate newcomers.

I’ll be honest. If it would have been possible, I would have voted to keep Burris for the remainder of the term, because I think the bureaucratic bopping about that will take place soon is unnecessary, and likely will cause more confusion than it is worth.

Also, it may well have let Burris leave the U.S. Senate on his own terms (instead of booting him sometime about Nov. 29), thereby making it easier for the 73-year-old to accept the idea of political retirement.

Because after seeing him be interviewed this week on WTTW-TV, it was so obvious that he won’t leave electoral office voluntarily. He WILL be in the mix for mayor – most likely as a stubborn candidate who stays in all the way to the end and takes 1 percent of the vote.

WHICH MEANS WE’RE going to have to assume the role of a vampire slayer and drive a stake through the heart of his electoral ambitions with our lack of votes. Where’s Buffy when we need her?

Two things caught my attention about Burris’ comments.

For the record, he claims he’s not a candidate right now. He admits nominating petitions are being circulated on his behalf to try to gain the support required to get his name on the ballot for the February municipal elections, but says the people doing the legwork are doing this on their own – and that he will make up his mind what to do in a few weeks after seeing the results of their work.

Roland thinks we love him to the point where we’re going to sacrifice our time and effort to keep alive his political career (which really came to an end following the 1994 elections, even though he has been a perennial candidate for many offices ever since).

THE OTHER THING that caught my attention was Burris’ memory of the 1995 mayoral election, when Roland himself ran a campaign as a political independent and lost to Richard M. Daley.

In that election cycle (they were still having partisan primary elections back then prior to the general election), Burris managed to take 36.1 percent of the vote to Daley’s 60.1 percent. In short, Roland is just one of the many black politicos whom Daley has beaten up on (Tim Evans, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis are a few of the others) in mayoral elections.

I don’t think anybody has any special memory of the ’95 mayoral race, except for Roland, who described his performance as, “the highest performance against a Mayor Daley in our time,” while also pointing out that he got the one-third support during a campaign that lasted little more than 30 days.

In short, Burris thinks that he’s something special who can achieve victory come 2011.

ABOUT THE ONLY people in Chicago who suffer from greater delusions than that are Chicago Cubs fans who seriously believe their team is JUST THIS CLOSE to actually winning a National League pennant.

The thing to consider about Burris’ mayoral bid is that it came just one year after he lost his bid for Illinois governor, and just a few months after he left office as Illinois attorney general.

In short, Burris was still a viable political commodity. That first campaign he ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1994 (losing to Dawn Clark Netsch) was a legitimate political bid. There was no shame in that loss. He just got beaten. It happens.

It is his political activity in the years since that mayoral bid that have created the image of Burris as the old-timer who can’t accept his time has passed, and manages to chip away at his reputation bit by bit with each token campaign he runs.

THAT WILL BE the end result of any serious mayoral bid, although Burris during his television appearance this week admitted he thinks there are other credible candidates, including former Chicago Public Schools President Gery Chico, Rev. James Meeks, and former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun – all of whom he said he could consider endorsing, should he decide NOT to go for Chicago mayor.

But he will. We will all snicker at the sight. And perhaps events will occur that will cause Burris to think that there is some other office he can run for in the future.

Although I have taken my share of pot-shots at Burris throughout my two-plus decades as a political reporter-type person, I have to confess to having some respect for the record he accomplished as the state’s attorney general, along with three terms as state comptroller.

It’s just too bad that Burris doesn’t return to his South Side home (the one he bought from famed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson) and become one of our historic figures – adding accounts of his two “Golden Gavels” (earned by presiding over the Senate for 200-plus hours) and support for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform proposal to his tales of integrating the public swimming pool in Centralia by just diving in.


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