Washington, D.C. is missing a senator.
On Monday, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Chris Coons of Delaware, both winners of special elections, were sworn in as United States Senators. Manchin is completing the term of the late Robert Byrd, Coons the term of Vice President Joe Biden.
Left out of that ceremony was the winner of this month’s other special election, our own Mark Kirk. Kirk won’t be sworn in until after the Illinois Secretary of State’s office certifies the results, probably on Nov. 23.
Republicans have been screaming that the delay is a Democratic plot to keep Roland Burris around for another week (as though the Democrats wanted Roland Burris around in the first place.) Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who’s still good for a laugh, called Kirk’s late seating “really corrupt machine style” and “such an outrageously corrupt and dishonest position that even Harry Reid ought to be ashamed of himself.”
Actually, it’s a Republican’s fault that Kirk wasn’t sworn in yesterday. The special election was approved by U.S. District Court Judge John Grady, who was appointed to the bench by Gerald Ford. In setting the election, Grady specified that the state would have until Nov. 24 to certify the election, to ensure the state had time to count overseas military ballots. A Republican judge ensuring that servicemen can vote. And this is a Democratic machine plot?
Still, it’s too bad Kirk wasn’t sworn in yesterday. As a congressman, he would have trumped both Manchin and Coons in seniority.
This means Roland Burris will have one more week to chat with Sen. Orrin Hatch about clothes. And the stonemasons will have to wait until after Thanksgiving to chisel “United States Senator” on his tombstone.