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Dumping a Senate Candidate for ... a Senator?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It was one of those serendipitous moments that only happens on the Internet.

    I was reading a Wall Street Journal article that claimed “Team Obama is increasingly eager to throw the Democratic Senate candidate from Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias, under the bus and replace him with someone who can win.”

    The author suggested replacing Giannoulias on the ticket with Rahm Emanuel or Lisa Madigan -- “the one Democrat I would not want to run against,” according to Mark Kirk.

    Just as I finished the article, I got an e-mail from an old acquaintance I’d almost forgotten about. As soon as I saw the name, I thought, “That’s the man the Democrats should run for Senate.”

    It was Roland Burris, writing to tell me about his support for President Obama’s Wall Street reform package.

    If there’s anyone who can so appropriately compensate for Giannoulias’s weaknesses, it’s Burris.

    Like Giannoulias, Burris began his career in banking. After starting out as a bank examiner, he joined Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust. During Burris’s years at Continental, the bank did not go out of business. In fact, it stayed in business until 1984, when an executive who took kickbacks for making risky loans caused Continental to collapse in what was then the largest bank failure in American history.

    By then, Burris had been gone for 11 years, and he wasn’t remotely related to the hinky lender -- a comfortable remove Giannoulias surely envies.

    Giannoulias’s detractors say he’s inexperienced: at 34 years old, he’s spent a single term as state treasurer. Burris spent 12 years as comptroller and four years as attorney general, and was either too dumb or too honest to enrich himself. A decade-and-a-half in Springfield without a scandal is a real achievement. Also, Illinois was never taken over by the Feds when Burris was in charge of its accounts.

    Plus, Burris is already 94th in seniority in the Senate. Giannoulias will have to start at the bottom.

    Rahm Emanuel really wants to be mayor of Chicago. Lisa Madigan really wants to be governor of Illinois. Burris really wanted to be governor of Illinois, but after he lost three times, he accepted that “U.S. Senator” would look just as impressive on his tombstone. He’ll take the nomination.

    Scuttlebutt (and common sense) says the Democrats aren't looking to replace Giannoulias. But if they are looking for a Senate candidate, they should look no further than the U.S. Senate.

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