"If Roland Burris is the nominee and Mark Kirk is the Republican nominee, Mark Kirk wins"

Burris hasn’t even said he’s running, but the behind-the-scenes debate within the Democratic Party is already fraught with concerns about race, fundraising and the Rod Blagojevich scandal. On top of that, Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, has said very positive things about a potential Burris primary opponent — even though he’s made no endorsements.

The fear among Illinois Democrats is that a Burris candidacy would create a nasty primary that would split the Democratic electorate between black voters and white voters, giving Republicans a chance to fill the political vacuum.

Even if Burris wins the party primary, some Democrats doubt his ability to raise enough money to compete effectively in a statewide general election race. And the scandalous circumstances surrounding his appointment by an impeached Blagojevich will be fodder for the GOP.