Departing Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who must give up his seat on Monday when Republican Sen.-elect Mark Kirk is sworn in, would not mind being the next mayor of Chicago -- as would about 20 other folks who have filed to run.
Burris allowed his backers to file nominating petitions on Monday, the last day possible to qualify for the Feb. 22 mayoral primary. Other notable candidates include former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), attorney Gery Chico, state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) and Rob Halpin, the man Emanuel rented his home to when he moved to Washington last year. Halpin's refusal to break the lease he has with Emanuel figures into the residency challenge against Emanuel that is expected to be filed on Wednesday.
Burris leaves the Senate
following Kirk's victory to fill what is left of President Obama's original Senate term. Burris
is not an active candidate for mayor; he has no campaign, no staff, and no money. Burris already owes $630,000 to lawyers who helped him in his battle to get seated in the Senate and fight ethics charges. Burris accepted an appointment from Rod Blagojevich, the impeached governor who was convicted of lying to federal agents and is awaiting trial next year, accused among other charges of trying to sell Obama's seat.
When I talked to Burris on Nov. 10 about a mayoral run, the Senate's only African-American member told me, "I am not going to be out there running with three or four black candidates; I'm not doing that."
Moseley Braun, Davis and Meeks are African-Americans. Burris is probably putting his name out there in the unlikely event the other African-American candidates decide not to run. But Burris would find it very difficult to find any substantive political support in a mayoral race.
If no one wins a majority on Feb. 22, the top two vote-getters head into an April 5 runoff.