STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Renee's off today, which means she misses this news story. Illinois Senator Roland Burris will be making a major announcement today in Chicago. Democratic Party sources say Mr. Burris will announce that he will not run for a full Senate term in 2010.
Senator Burris never escaped the taint of his appointment to that job by Governor Rod Blagojevich, who'd just been arrested on corruption charges. NPR's David Schaper reports from Chicago.
DAVID SCHAPER: Few political observers are too terribly surprised to hear that Roland Burris will not seek a full term to the Senate.
Representative DANNY DAVIS (Democrat, Illinois): I think it was doomed from the beginning.
SCHAPER: Chicago Congressman Danny Davis says anyone who would've accepted what he considers to be a tainted appointment from Rod Blagojevich would have faced enormous odds against winning a full term.
Blagojevich named Burris to President Barack Obama's former seat in the Senate in late December of last year — three weeks after Blagojevich had been charged with trying to sell the Senate appointment to the highest bidder for his own personal gain. Blagojevich was later impeached, removed from office, and ultimately indicted on a wide range of corruption charges.
Burris made a bad situation much worse by changing his story about how he came to get the appointment, and whether there was any pay to play involved. Senate leaders would only allow Burris to be seated in the Senate after he testified before an Illinois House investigative committee about his discussions with those within the Blagojevich inner circle about the appointment.
After being seated, Burris admitted to having many more contacts with Blagojevich's people than he had acknowledged in his testimony.
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Senator ROLAND BURRIS (Democrat, Illinois): Burris speaking.
Mr. ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Hello, Roland. This is Rob Blagojevich again. How are you?
SCHAPER: In this phone call, wiretapped by the FBI, between Burris and Robert Blagojevich, the ex-governor's brother and chief fund raiser, Burris promises to personally do something in terms of raising money for the governor while in the next breath saying this…
Senator BURRIS: Tell Rod to keep me in mind for that seat, would ya?
Mr. BLAGOJEVICH: I'll let him know.
Senator BURRIS: Okay.
Mr. BLAGOJEVICH: Bye, Roland.
Senator BURRIS: All right. Bye-bye.
SCHAPER: Again, Congressman Danny Davis.
Rep. DAVIS: I think all of that was damaging and added fuel to the fire. But I think the blaze was already going.
SCHAPER: Despite it all, some say Burris still believed he could overcome the taint of his appointment and win election to a full term if he could raise enough money. But sources say Burris has been unable to raise virtually any money for a race that could easily cost $10 to $12 million for candidates without his baggage.
Bob Starks is a political scientist at Northeastern Illinois University.
Professor BOB STARKS (Northeastern Illinois University): I think the major problem was his run-in with the Senate leadership and the Democratic Party at the national level, and the fact that Mr. Obama himself had lost faith - in fact never really supported him.
SCHAPER: The expected announcement by Burris today that he will not run for a full term leaves the field for the Illinois Senate seat wide open. Among the Democrats considering the race are Christopher Kennedy, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Jackson. On the Republican side, moderate suburban Chicago Congressman Mark Kirk and Illinois state GOP chairman Andy McKenna are considering getting into the race.
David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.
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