03/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thank You, Readers

Thank you to the readers of the Huffington Post for voting me the "Hottest Freshman" of the 111th Congress. It's about time politicians from Illinois were known for something other than bad haircuts or having the ability to walk on water.

While it's always nice to win an election, this distinction is an amusing diversion from the serious work before Congress.

I know most of you didn't vote Republican, but I am proud of my membership in the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. During my service in the Illinois General Assembly, on the Peoria School Board and in my short time in Congress, I've focused on building bridges, finding common ground and creating innovative solutions to our nation's problems.

Some examples include ensuring government transparency; providing more funding for transportation and infrastructure; improving public education; and working to create and sustain jobs. While we might not always agree, we both have the same goal - ensuring our government works for everyone.

In that vein, I recently introduced H.R. 899, the Ethical and Legal Elections for Congressional Transitions (ELECT) Act. The ELECT Act requires that within 90 days of a vacancy in the United States Senate, a special election occurs.

In this year alone, we've seen five Senate vacancies appointed by Governors, including the debacle in Illinois. This has highlighted the need to ensure that the American people have a say in determining who represents them in the United States Senate.

Given the fact that only 33 percent of appointed Senators win their first general election, it's clear that appointed Senators do not have the support of their constituents.

The people of Illinois have unfortunately had the process of selecting their next Senator dragged through the mud and almost sold off to the highest bidder. Such a process is unacceptable - it should be of the highest integrity, openness and honesty.

I introduced this legislation not just for Illinois, or just for Republicans. It seems to me, Democrats in New Hampshire would like to have a say on who is currently representing them in the Senate. We need to end the undemocratic process of selecting senators in smoke-filled backrooms, or in the case of New York, on Page Six. And the ELECT Act does just that.

While some may question the constitutionality of the ELECT Act, I believe this bill satisfies the 17th Amendment by allowing the Governor or State Legislature to fill a vacancy with an appointment for the period before the special election. However, this person must run in the special election to maintain control of the seat.

Having elected, rather than appointed officials is in the interest of Congress and the American people. As readers of the Huffington Post know, if elections are good enough to decide who the hottest freshman is, they obviously should be used to select those who determine our future.

I appreciate this honor, but my real goal is to have a "hot" legislative record on behalf of the people I serve.