Dec. 30, 2008— -- He may be a relatively obscure politician outside of Illinois, but today, Roland Burris grabbed headlines as scandalized Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced that he will attempt to appoint the attorney to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
The 71-year-old served as attorney general of Illinois from 1991 to 1995. He was the state's first black attorney general and treasurer.
"I'd say if there hadn't been a Roland Burris that there would not have been a Carol [Moseley] Braun or a Barack Obama," Burris told The Associated Press in September. "I had to lay the groundwork … to perform in a high statewide office."
But Burris, who will not likely reach the Senate as Democrats have pledged not to seat any Blagojevich pick, has suffered several political setbacks as of late.
Blagojevich's Senate pick lost bids for Chicago mayor in 1995 and Illinois governor in 1993, 1998 and 2002. Burris also lost a bid for the Senate earlier in his career, in 1984.
In 2002, Burris lost the governorship to Blagojevich -- who is under investigation for allegedly trying to sell Obama's Senate seat for personal gain -- and was backed by then-state Sen. Barack Obama.
Burris indicated interest in Obama's Senate seat when the president-elect resigned but, according to the Chicago Tribune, was never seriously considered by the Illinois governor or his peers.