Roland Burris

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Ted Warren / AP

Roland Burris.

In a move as brazen as it was unexpected, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich — accused of trying to swap President Elect Barack Obama's vacant senate seat for a high-paying Administration job or other favors — named former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris as Obama's replacement. As a former State Comptroller, he's the first African American to win an Illinois executive office; he has also lost five races for higher office.

Fast Facts:

• 71 years old, Burris is married to Berlean Miller, and they have two children, Rolanda and Roland II.

• Grew up in Centralia where, as a 16-year old, he tried to integrate the local swimming pool.

• Received his law degree from Howard University. Early in his career, worked as a federal bank examiner, was a bank vice-president, and led Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition before going into politics.

• In 1978, won the first of his three terms as state comptroller; became attorney general in 1991.

• Lost a 1984 Senate race, a 1995 Chicago mayoral race (he was creamed by Richard Daley) and was defeated in the 1994, 1998, and 2002 gubernatorial elections (the last time by Blagojevich).

• According to several Chicago Tribune stories from the 90s, Burris can regard slights against him as signs of racism. In 1998, he called his challengers "non-qualified white boys."

• Burris possesses a healthy ego. He has a mausoleum for himself already constructed on the South Side of Chicago into which the words "TRAIL BLAZER" are carved, along with a long list of his accomplishments.

• While attorney general, Burris oversaw the controversial murder conviction (later overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court) of Rolando Cruz, accused of killing a 10-year old girl. A lawyer in the office resigned when Burris declined to acknowledge any mistakes in the case's prosecution.

Quotes About:

• "Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man."
— Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, during a Dec. 30 press conference announcing Burris as his pick to fill Obama's seat

• "Roland is a sturdy, non-flash bridge-builder."
— Rev. Jesse Jackson, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 8, 1993

• "Roland's banker profile doesn't lend itself to the same kind of Baptist preacher personality that the African American community is used to...On the stump, Roland won't get the same response."
— Bobby Rush, Illinois congressman, Chicago Tribune, Feb. 17, 2002

• "He left government under a good standing, and this is not a way to re-enter it."
— Jim Durkin, Republican spokesman on the Illinois House impeachment panel,, Dec. 30, 2008

Quotes From:

• "[I'm] a small piece of leather but [I'm] well put together."
— on how he's managed, through a healthy diet among other things, to remain so well-preserved, Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1998

• "Faced with these challenges and challenged with these crises, it is incomprehensible that the people of the great state of Illinois will enter the 111th Congress shorthanded."
— on the possibility that U.S. Senate Democrats would not seat him, press conference, Dec. 30, 2008

• "I'm not some fluke or perennial candidate."
— on his belief that he would become Illinois' first black governor. He subsequently ran for office three more times. Chicago Tribune, Nov. 8, 1993

• "Why not me?"
— to Rick Garcia, director of public policy for Equality Illinois, on who should replace Obama in the Senate, Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 10, 2008