CHICAGO
03/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Quinn Calls For Special Election If Burris Won't Resign In Weeks, But State Dems Bottle Up Bill

Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday that Illinois should hold a special election to replace Roland Burris if the beleaguered Senator doesn't resign in a two weeks, the Tribune reports:

"If he voluntarily resigns, it really accelerates everything and makes it much better," the governor said. "Now, after a short reasonable period of time, if he doesn't do that, then I think we should pursue ahead with a (special-election) statute. I've urged the two legislative leaders today in Springfield, when I was there. to go ahead and do that. Let's get it on the books."

Asked what a reasonable time was for Burris to contemplate before steeping down, Quinn responded, "I think two weeks is enough."

Quinn's comments follow an opinion released late Wednesday by Attorney General Lisa Madigan in which she said the state would be within its legal rights to hold a special election that would essentially force Burris from office. The opinion rests on an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's 17th Amendment that views a governor's appointment to a Senate seat as a temporary placeholder until an election can be held.

Though Madigan's opinion opened the legal door to a special election, some Senate Democrats appear to be resisting it, the AP reports:

Legislation that could force Sen. Roland Burris out of office is stirring up controversy at the Illinois Capitol.

The measure would change the law under which Burris was appointed to the Senate. It would end his temporary term and require a special election to fill the seat.

A state Senate committee today sent the measure to a subcommittee, saying it needs more study. Bills sent to subcommittee often die there.

Republicans claim Democrats are scared to approve a special election because a Republican might win.

The two sides can't even agree on the cost. Democrats say an election would require $50 million that local governments don't have, while Republicans put the price at $15 million.

Critics say a move to cut short Burris' term might be unconstitutional. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan has issued an opinion saying the change would be legal.

Burris is under pressure to resign because of questions about how he received his appointment from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Labor lawyer and 5th Congressional District candidate Tom Geoghegan also joined the special election fight Thursday, announcing that he has filed a federal suit against the state and Gov. Quinn seeking a special election for Burris' Senate seat. Geoghegan's rationale is consistent with Madigan's opinion that Burris' appointment was temporary and the Constitution requires an election be held to properly fill it.

Read the full text of Geoghegan's complaint at Progress Illinois.