One of the most unpopular Senators in recent history is hoping to stay in his seat just a little longer.
Roland Burris, whose approval ratings have been in the mid-teens this year, is asking the Supreme Court to be placed on the ballot for a special Senate election in Illinois. The winner of that election would serve in the brief lame-duck session between November 2 and the January inauguration.
An appellate court ruling in June paved the way for the special election, saying that Illinois had violated the Constitution by failing to hold a special election for the seat after Burris' interim appointment.
Because it would have been next to impossible to mobilize the resources to hold an election before November, it was decided that the special election would be held on the same day as the general election. District Court Judge John Grady ruled that only the candidates who would be on the ballot in the general would be eligible for the special.
It's this ruling that Roland Burris is challenging, according to a new POLITICO report:
Burris' petition to the nation's highest court argues that Grady's decision, "deprives Illinois citizens of the rights to due process and equal protection, and to unfettered access to the ballot."
"Voters very well might have different preferences for what is desirable in a person who will fill the remaining 62 days of the current Senate term and the person who will fill the subsequent six-year term," argues Burris in his petition.
The special election could impact national politics in two ways. First of all, there's money: because it's technically a separate election, candidates Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk can raise money for both the special and general elections. In essence, contributors can donate double the maximum amount.
Second, the lame duck session may prove an important time for Democratic lawmakers to push through major legislation before their majorities shrink or disappear in 2011. If Republican Mark Kirk wins the special election, taking the seat from Burris, the lame-duck Senate majority will be one vote smaller, a vote that could prove crucial to the Democrats' agenda.
In addition to an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, Burris has also asked the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois to consider his candidacy, according to POLITICO.