Illinois: We can't certify Mark Kirk's win until after Thanksgiving because of "paperwork"

Via Guy Benson. To recap, Kirk finished ahead of Alexi Giannoulias by more than 70,000 votes. Giannoulias not only conceded the race but met with Kirk for a rift-mending post-election brewski a few days afterward. Because this was not only a regular election but a special election to fill out the last few weeks remaining in Obama’s Senate term, the winner will be seated immediately and participate in the lame-duck session, meaning that the public has an interest in approving the results expeditiously.

And yet, despite there being zero doubt as to who won, “paperwork” means Kirk won’t join the Senate until late November at the earliest. I’m not sure which is worse — the thought that Illinois Democrats are purposely dragging their feet to keep Kirk out of the chamber so that he can’t block lame-duck Democratic legislation or the thought that they’re not dragging their feet and this really is the fastest they can move.

State officials told Washington Wire that the five-term Republican, who defeated state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the contest for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, can’t fill his new post until Nov. 23, a week after the Senate convenes for the lame-duck session. The reason for the gap: Illinois election officials need time to certify the vote.

Mr. Kirk will miss a week’s worth of cloture votes, a bummer for the congressman who campaigned that he would be the “42nd Republican senator, with the opportunity to put the brakes on any lame-duck overreach.” He even created a separate website for the issue, Mr. Kirk’s office had no immediate comment on the dates…

The Senate is expected break for Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) and return for any unfinished business in December.

Here’s Kirk’s website about the lame-duck session, which opens with the video seen below. He actually campaigned on this, in other words, and despite having won, he’s still being locked out until next month. The very least wavering Senate Republicans could do, in case any are tempted to join Democrats on any votes this month, is to filibuster until Kirk is seated. Although, given the sort of noise Kirk’s spokesman is making about him voting with the Dems on campaign finance legislation, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high about Kirk either.

Speaking of the lame-duck session, despite Bob Gates hint-hinting yesterday in Australia that the Senate should use the time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” it looks like the prospects are dim. Politically, I don’t get it. The GOP just took 31 percent of the gay vote during the midterms, up from 19 percent in 2008, and they’ve got plenty of political cover to support repeal from respected military figures like Gates and Adm. Mullen, both of whom support repeal. A heavy majority of the public also supports it. The only concern is alienating social conservatives, but since most GOP congressmen are and will continue to be opposed to gay marriage, they have some cover in that regard too. It’d be very easy for a senator to sell a pro-repeal vote on grounds that he/she disapproves of the “lifestyle” or whatever but wants to ensure that the military has access to all good men and women willing to serve. A wasted opportunity.

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