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Sen. Roland Burris: ‘Right on Course?’

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet writes today that Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who occupies President Obama’s old seat, recently told her he believes his experience and knowledge of both Illinois and Washington have helped him adjust to his new job.

“I am right on course,” Burris told Sweet, who reports that Burris is calling on Democratic Party leaders to support him in a 2010 run, while he has just $845 in campaign funds as of his last filing and no substantive fundraising network to support a future campaign.

I think Burris’ logistical problems could be a little more immediate.

Last week, while prepping for my guest-blogging stint at TWI, I called all the offices of all the senators who owe their job in one way or another to Obama’s victory — including Burris; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s replacement, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.); Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who is finishing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s term; and Vice President Joe Biden’s replacement, Sen. Edward Kaufman (D-Del.) — to add me to their press release lists, because I’d be blogging on 2010 Senate campaigns and all of them must battle to retain their seats.

So far only Gillibrand’s staff has been able to handle that request. Or at least they’re the only ones to have sent me any information.

A Burris staffer, who wouldn’t give me her name, went so far as to say they “don’t have a press release list” and they just post all information on the senator’s Website.

If you’re a serious member of Congress, sworn in four months ago, you should probably have a way to immediately get your message to the media. Press release lists allow your staff to brag about your accomplishments, put your stamp on issues and in general keep reporters aware of your existence.

Sweet’s column includes praise for Burris’ work ethic and comments from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security committee, who told her that Burris ”comes to virtually every hearing we have in Homeland Security and he asks good questions.”

On the government side, Burris has an operation up and running in Washington and in regional offices in Illinois. In mid-April Burris moved from temporary quarters to more space in the Russell Senate Office Building. After a bumpy start — a chief of staff left a few weeks after Burris was sworn in last January — Burris has put together a seasoned staff who know their way around the Capitol.

Too bad his staff doesn’t know its way around a media list.

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