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Roland Burris Will Not Seek Re-Election, Can't Raise Funds

Friday, 10 Jul 2009 03:29 PM

WASHINGTON – Embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris planned Friday to say he won't run for a full term in 2010, making official the end of a short Senate career clouded by the circumstances of his appointment by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In prepared remarks obtained by The Associated Press, Burris said he was bowing out of the 2010 race because of the burden of raising money to pay for a campaign.

"I was called to choose between spending my time raising funds, or spending my time raising issues for my state. I believe that the business of the people of Illinois should always come first," Burris said, according to the prepared remarks.

The nation's only black U.S. senator, Burris was scheduled to make his formal announcement Friday afternoon. His decision to bow out caps a long political career that included stints as Illinois' comptroller and attorney general.

Blagojevich appointed Burris to the seat once held by President Barack Obama in December, just weeks after the then-governor was arrested on charges of trying to sell the seat.

After his appointment, Burris fought waves of criticism, opposition from fellow Democrats, court battles and even a perjury investigation. He seemed to acknowledge the travails of the last seven months in his speech.

"Serving in public life is not easy, but it is a noble and rewarding calling," he said.

Burris' fundraising has been lackluster. Polls have shown he has little voter support and he doesn't have the backing of top Illinois politicians, including fellow Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who has said repeatedly he would not support Burris for a full term.

His decision is the latest major development in the closely watched Senate race in Illinois. On Wednesday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who would have been a likely front-runner in the Democratic primary, also opted out of the race to seek another term as the state's top lawyer.

Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias plans to seek the Democratic nomination and the other Democrats are considering getting in too, including Christopher Kennedy, a Chicago businessman and son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, and Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Jackson.

Republican Rep. Mark Kirk is looking at a GOP bid for the seat.

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