WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, trying to hang on to his Senate seat, is being subjected to an effort to "sully his good name" and race is involved, his office says.
Delmarie Cobb, Burris's newly hired media and political consultant, told Politico there has been a coordinated effort to "weaken Roland and sully his good name" and "race has something to do with" how the 71-year-old African-American has been treated.
Faced with controversy surrounding several affidavits on conversations he had with impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- investigations in Washington and Illinois are under way -- Burris has been hanging tough against calls for his resignation and has stopped talking to media.
Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who's aligned with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., recently announced he is forming an exploratory committee for the 2010 Senate race. Cobb however, said Democrats would be "crazy" if "they think they can win without black votes."
While his spokesman told the Washington publication Monday Burris has made no decision about the 2010 race, he's got a Web site up calling on Illinois voters to "support Roland Burris in 2010."
Asked whether playing the race card lead to party in-fighting, Cobb said Democratic leaders have taken black voters for granted.
"I think it could be a nasty fight because African-Americans have been extremely loyal to the Democratic Party," she said.
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