Despite advances in his recovery from a recent stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) opted not to attend the GOP National Convention in Tampa this week.
During Tuesday's Illinois delegation breakfast, a video message from Kirk was met with a standing ovation, NBC Chicago reports. "I really wish I could be there today," Kirk said, calling this "the most important election we've had."
A suburban political analyst told the Daily Herald that Kirk's cautious re-entry, including missing the GOP convention, is a smart political move, since his constituents are carefully weighing whether he's fit to return to office. Although a survey of Illinois delegates in Florida conducted by the newspaper suggests he's in fine shape: a majority said they were "not at all concerned" about his absence.
Fellow state Republicans are fighting to keep Kirk in the conversation, as his January stroke interrupted a concerted effort to transition him into a party leadership role in Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports. Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady told the newspaper Kirk was involved in arrangements and fundraising for the Illinois delegation's convention trip.
“He’s still involved. That’s the thing. His staff, who talks to him regularly, is very much involved with our political staff. He’s tracking the stuff and following it,” Sen. Christine Radogno of Lemont, the Republican leader in the Senate, told the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Brown. “I know we sent him information on our races which I understand he was very excited to see.”