Political Notebook

Burris cites money issues for decision

July 11, 2009
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CHICAGO - Embattled Illinois Senator Roland Burris said yesterday that he won’t run for a full term in 2010, making official the end of a short Senate career clouded by questions about his appointment by disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich.

Burris, the only black US senator, said he was bowing out of the 2010 race because of the burden of raising money to pay for a campaign. “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 of the state of Illinois should always come first,’’ Burris said.

Burris raised only $845 during the first three months of 2009, polls have shown that he has little voter support; nor does he have the backing of top Illinois politicians, including fellow Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who has said repeatedly he would not support Burris for a full term.

His decision caps a long political career that included stints as Illinois’s comptroller and attorney general. Blagojevich appointed Burris to the seat once held by President 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 announcement.

“Serving in public life is not easy, but it is a noble and rewarding calling,’’ he said.


Crew kept everyone safe on Obama flight last year
WASHINGTON - Skillful piloting may have prevented a disaster for President Obama and his campaign plane last summer, a former federal safety official said yesterday.

A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board indicates an inflated slide may have pressed against critical cables that control whether the plane points up or down, forcing the emergency landing of Obama’s plane July 7, 2008. The slide inflated inside the tail cone of the campaign’s McDonnell Douglas MD-81 shortly after takeoff from Chicago’s Midway International Airport, the report said.

The flight crew struggled to level the aircraft’s nose, and didn’t regain normal control until after the plane began its descent for an emergency landing at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, said the report, which lays out evidence uncovered by investigators but doesn’t reach a conclusion on the cause of the incident.

Former NTSB member John Goglia said the problem, had it continued, had the potential to cause a stall “at a critical point in flight.’’

There were no injuries to the 51 crew and passengers, including Obama. At the time, the pilot told passengers they were never in danger, and the Federal Aviation Administration said no emergency had been declared.