Burris may not have paid to play, but there may be other forces who did, planning to soften the competition in 2010. And the current game is not yet over. Harry Reid's dilatory tactics may produce game changing results.
Roland Burris is believable when he cliams he did not "pay to play" for his appointment as Illinois senator, replacing Barack Obama. That doesn't meant money was not in play.
A basic rule in politics is to "follow the money?"
Burris could be a disaster for the Democrats' long-term plans for controlling the senate. He's been a failure as a candidate in recent years and there's no reason to expect otherwise in 2010, if he chooses to tap the power of incumbency to run for the full six year term.
The reason Harry Reid and others wanted someone strong as a candidate was because of that power of incumbency. Incumbents win 95% of the time.
But Burris is such a weak candidate, he might very well be that one in 20 candidates who cannot be saved by the power of incumbency. It makes sense, if you are going to have to run a race in two years, to position a strong candidate who brings a LOT to the race, so the power of incumbency can be tapped rather than drained.
It's likely that in 2010, Burris will face a tough opponent in the Democratic primary, one supported by the DSCC and the DNC.
That brings me back to the adage, "follow the money?"
It costs about $30 million to run a senate race in a major state. If a Republican candidate could remove the incumbency edge from the 2010 race, what would that be worth? Half a million, a million, five million dollars? Ten million? We're talking about a huge advantage removed.
If the 2010 Republican candidate either runs against a weak Roland Burris or a non-incumbent Democratic primary victor, either way, it's an easier road than if a strong, viable candidate is appointed now, one vetted by DSCC (Democratic Senate Campaign Committee) and DNC leaders, who continues on as an incumbent.
About that money trail. It would make a lot of sense, if Governor Rod Blagojevich, was on the take, selling the senate seat, that he could do very well accepting an "investment" from Republican third party backers, to appoint a loser, someone who would soften the fight in 2010.
Did Burris give any money? Probably not. But maybe the target of the investigation should be on the other side of the aisle where there is still much to be gained by influencing the appointment.
As of the time of writing this, Burris has not yet been confirmed. If Blagojevich is impeached and replaced, his replacement may be able to void the appointment of Burris. Or he could simply appoint his own replacement for Obama, providing HIS appointee with all the needed papers. Then, the senate will be in an interesting position, having to decide who to accept.
Harry Reid was smart to shift his stance from tough to gracious. If he is sweet and kind and continues to sandbag Burris's senate confirmation until what looks to be a certain impeachment of Blagojevich, he could very well end up smelling like a slightly wilted rose and getting what he wants, a strong viable, 2010 Illinois candidate.
The Impeachment process has started on Burris. The IL supreme court has decided that the secretary of state's signature is not required for his appointment. He is still not accepted as a senator. The head of the Republican party for a neighboring state, MI, is now following me on twitter. Think there's a connection?