Senator-elect Mark Kirk, R-Ill, will have to wait a little longer than some of his freshman colleagues before he takes his seat in the Senate. A circuit court judge ordered a special election be held simultaneously with the general election to fill the seat which is currently held by appointed Democrat Roland Burris and previously by President Obama, meaning the winner is seated immediately. But a spokesman for the secretary of state tells Fox the election returns will not be certified in time for the first half of the lame duck session scheduled to begin on November 15.
The delay should have no impact on major legislation, however. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has lined up a food safety bill for floor consideration during the first week. More controversial legislative fights over spending and tax cuts are not expected until the second half of the lame duck, after the Thanksgiving holiday, and Kirk should definitely be seated by then, according to David Druker, spokesman for Secretary Jesse White.
The process normally takes longer, but Druker said Thursday that after local officials deliver their election results to the state board of elections by Friday, November 19, "the board plans on meeting on the 23rd in Springfield to certify Mr. Kirk. Upon notification from the Board of Elections, we will get a form signed by the secretary of state and governor, and we will get that to the secretary of the Senate by the 23rd or 24th."
And the world found out how vital those two particular signatures are for an incoming senator, as Roland Burris, appointed by scandal-plagued then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, tried to come to Washington to be seated without the signatures, only to be turned around at the door.
Sen. Burris eventually obtained the proper paperwork, and after a few weeks, the media circus died down as did the heavy criticism which included calls for his resignation. He has even earned the praise of colleagues who once shunned him and said he had no business taking the appointment from a tainted governor.
"Mr. Burris serves until Mr. Kirk is sworn in. That's what the judge's order says," Druker recounted, a transition of power that should come without controversy this time.