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02/18/2009

Standing Eight Count

  Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan delivered a near-knockout punch Tuesday to the political future of newly-appointed U.S. Senator Roland Burris. Madigan sent documents related to Burris' January testimony to the House Impeachment Committee to the Sangamon County (Springfield) State's Attorney who will consider whether a perjury charge should be filed against Burris.

 In boxing, they call it a "standing eight count" when the ref moves between the two fighters and counts off eight seconds while holding the wrists and looking into the dazed eyes of the guy getting the worst of it. Burris is not out yet...but he's getting real close.

  In a sworn affidavit earlier this month and in statements to reporters, Burris has changed his story on events leading to his appointment to the senate seat by since-ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Burris has explained that he did not reveal contacts with the criminally suspect governor's political fundraising apparatus because Impeachment Committee members "didn't ask".

  Understand that Madigan is also the chairman of the Illinois Democratic party. He could have re-convened the Impeachment panel and allowed Burris to explain himself. But when he referred the matter for possible criminal charges to the Sangamon County prosecutor, who happens to be a Republican, Madigan was for all intents and purposes setting Burris adrift. State's attorney John Schmidt could take weeks or months to "decide" on a perjury charge...stealing precious time from Burris who needs to begin raising money and campaigning to run for a full Senate term in 2010.

  During the weeks since Burris' appointment by Blagojevich, democrats in Illinois and Washington have whispered that they do not believe the former attorney general and state comptroller would be the strongest candidate the party could field in 2010.

  Now they have all the reasons they need to jettison him.

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