Despite cheers of "don't do it" and "run Roland run" Sen Roland Burris said he will not run in 2010, making official the end of a short Senate career clouded by the circumstances of his appointment by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
During his announcement, made Friday afternoon during a speech to constituents and community activists on Chicago’s South Side, the 71-year-old senator talked about the work he has been engaged in during his seven months in the Senate, his long history of public service to Illinois, the issues he will champion during his remaining time in office, and the reasoning behind his decision not to run for election in 2010.
"Life is about choices. Make no mistake that I love serving in the United States Senate. I love serving the people of illlinois. But in making this decsion, 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 comes first," he said.
Currently the nation's only black U.S. senator, Burris' 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 greeted supporters after his speech but left without taking questions, which has been typical during his tenure in office.
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.
Because he hasn't served for at least five years, he is not eligible to receive a federal pension.
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.
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was said to be calling supporters on Wednesday, telling them that he will be running for the United States Senate in 2010.
No official word yet on the plans of Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has announced an exploratory committee, or Christopher Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy.