Illinois residents will see a U.S. Senate seat on the ballot next year, and the field will be wide open for anyone who wants to run after a decision by current Sen. Roland Burris.

Burris took the seat thanks to an appointment by then Gov. Rod Blagojevich. That appointment met with mixed reviews when it was made due largely to the shadow of scandal following Blagojevich around.

Since then, more questions have popped up regarding the appointment, but nothing has been directly connected to Burris.

Yet the damage has been done. With Blagojevich facing federal indictments for allegedly trying to sell the same Senate seat, Burris found himself without a champion and little time in which to repair his image.

Running for Congress requires money, and lots of it. The challenge of raising enough campaign funds to launch a statewide campaign in Illinois — a state with many media markets — might be Burris’ failing.

According to The Associated Press, Burris had raised only $845 in campaign contributions during the first three months of this year.

With Attorney General Lisa Madigan also announcing last week her decision not to run for the U.S. Senate, the door stands wide open for other candidates.

Burris’ tenure in public service deserves recognition. He served as the state’s comptroller and attorney general before accepting the appointment to the Senate. He has not been named in any of the allegations surrounding Blagojevich and a subsequent investigation cleared him of any potential perjury charges.

The real winners here will be the people of Illinois. Whoever wins the U.S. Senate seat Burris now holds will be a candidate separate from the political mess Blagojevich’s situation has created. That alone makes the deal a much better one for Illinois.

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