Huffpost Chicago

Special Election For Burris Seat Rejected By State Senate Panel

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An effort to oust Democrat Roland Burris from his appointment as a U.S. senator was voted down Thursday by Illinois lawmakers.

A state Senate subcommittee voted 3-2 along party lines to reject the plan, which would have ended Burris' appointment and called for a special election.

Democrats, who estimated an election could cost up to $100 million _ double the amount earlier discussed _ said it would cost too much. Some also accused Republicans of unfairly targeting the nation's only black senator.

Republicans argued that Burris was tarnished by accepting an appointment from disgraced former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was removed from office partly because of accusations he schemed to benefit from his power to name President Barack Obama's successor in the Senate.

Burris has repeatedly changed his story about his contact with Blagojevich's friends and aides before he was appointed. He has acknowledged that he was asked to raise campaign money for Blagojevich and made an unsuccessful attempt to do so.

Burris' critics pointed out that the U.S. Constitution lets governors fill Senate vacancies "until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct." They argued that the General Assembly could pass a law ending Burris' appointment and order an election to decide who would serve the rest of Obama's Senate term, which ends in 2011.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn initially said he supported the idea but later reversed himself. His office said Thursday that Quinn expected the plan to fail.

Burris had no comment, an aide said.