- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If it were up to Roland W. Burris, he’d be here to stay.

A week of lonely walks, calls for his resignation and cameras following his every move didn’t seem to discourage the new senator from Illinois. The opposite happened, actually; Mr. Burris spent most of his time digging in.

“He’s kept a busy schedule since arriving in Washington, and he’s made a point of really going about the business of the Senate,” said Mr. Burris’ spokesman, Jim O’Connor.

Mr. Burris, a Democrat, was appointed to the Senate seat that President Obama vacated by former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who was impeached and driven from office after being accused of trying to sell the seat. Mr. Burris is under scrutiny because of new claims about the circumstances of his appointment and for changing his story about it multiple times.

His week began with a phalanx of television cameras at his office door. Then came calls for his resignation and a more pronounced distance from those who once backed him.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, an early supporter, made a point of staying out of the fray. When asked Thursday if Mr. Burris should resign, Mr. Cummings said, “I think he needs to make a decision for himself.”

Mr. Burris barely let on that things had changed for him even after his Illinois colleague and the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, told him he should resign.

He slogged through committee meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and voted on the Senate floor. He attended Mr. Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress, but he walked alone from the Senate chamber to the House when no one seemed interested in chatting with him.

Late Wednesday afternoon, he gave his second floor speech — in support of voting rights for the District — and then presided over the Senate, taking part in a ritual for freshman senators. On Thursday, he had more committee meetings and floor votes, then a night flight back to Chicago.

Mr. Burris was a no-show at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting with Mr. Obama on Thursday, saying he needed to be in the Senate for a vote. His absence prevented a potentially awkward encounter with the president.

Even Rep. Bobby L. Rush, the Illinois Democrat who has championed Mr. Burris’ appointment, said it was a good thing Mr. Burris wasn’t there.

Democrats on the Hill said Mr. Burris’ fellow senators have been cordial to him but have not gone out of their way to make him feel at home.

There was little solace on the Internet, either. Two Save Roland Burris groups have popped up on the popular Facebook Web site. The groups have fewer than 70 members combined, and their ranks include a handful of Republican political operatives.

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