All the votes hadn't yet been tallied, but it was pretty clear on Election Night that Republican Robert Dold would be the next congressman for Illinois' 10th District.
Yet the victory didn't really sink in for the Kenilworth businessman until about a week later, when he was attending an event for military veterans in Waukegan.
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"(I) was listed in the program as congressman-elect and introduced that way," recalled Dold, who defeated Democrat Dan Seals to win the 10th District seat. "That was kind of a jarring event."
Dold is scheduled to take the oath of office Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, he spoke with the Daily Herald about life since the election and his preparations for taking office.
Q. What have the last three weeks been like? I imagine you've been incredibly busy.
Dold: The last few weeks have been exciting. There have been a lot of congratulatory phone calls and notes, and we've spent a lot of time reaching out to so many people who, along the way, have been wildly helpful throughout this campaign. ... I view that this is the beginning and not the end. Now we need to get things going.
This last week (during which Dold was in Washington for freshman orientation in the House) was probably the most powerful, getting a chance to get to know the 85 or so freshmen who are coming in to this class, both on the Republican and the Democratic sides.
Q. Has this been an overwhelming experience?
Dold: I wouldn't say it's necessarily overwhelming. Certainly it's the greatest honor in my lifetime, to be able to represent the 10th District. We've actually spent time talking and being with people who didn't support us. One of our first (priorities) was to reach out to the other side to say, "We're representing the entire district now, and we want to make sure we understand your side."
It almost hasn't sunk in yet, because we're still in this mode of 'go go go.'
Q. Republicans picked up more than 60 seats in the House on Nov. 2. Why do you think the Republicans were so successful, whereas two years ago the opposite was the case?
Dold: I can talk to you more about the 10th. I think that people didn't believe Washington was listening to them. In 2008 there was this big surge (because) they didn't like what was happening and they wanted a change ... but the changes that happened weren't really stuff that they wanted. The Republicans have to recognize that we've been given an opportunity to get out and try to solve some of the big issues of our time and come up with solutions. And that's what we need to do. Otherwise, the pendulum will swing back the other way.
Q. We've seen quite a bit lately of conciliatory lunches or drinks. Sen.-elect Mark Kirk met with Alexi Giannoulias a couple days after the election, and Tuesday Pat Quinn was scheduled to sit down with Bill Brady for lunch. Have you had a chance to sit down with Dan Seals?
Dold: I haven't had a chance to sit down with Dan. I've had a chance to sit down with some of his advisers or people who were close to him, but I've not had the opportunity to sit down with Dan. I certainly would welcome that opportunity, but it has not happened yet.
Q. Tell me what freshman orientation was like.
Dold: I have been to the Capitol before. I used to work on Capitol Hill. Going there (as a congressman-elect) was remarkable and was really just a fabulous experience, especially with so many there. There's a tremendous amount of excitement going on in Washington, and that was really fantastic. We had an opportunity to be hosted by the speaker (of the House) and by (Republican) leader John Boehner. And it was bipartisan the freshman Democrats and the freshman Republicans were included. And that was a good introduction for us all, to be able to be put into the same groups together and talk as freshmen.
Q: What advice have you received from Mark Kirk as you prepare to replace him in the U.S. House?
Dold: The great news for the 10th District is that Mark Kirk is a friend, he's a mentor. We get along well together. One of my top priorities is to make sure this transition is seamless. Not smooth, but truly seamless. We're working closely together, not only with Senator-elect Kirk but also his staff, to make sure there is no hiccup either in the district or in the Washington, D.C., office.
His advice, which he's given me all along, is that our role is to make sure we represent the people of the 10th District. And many of the people who are going to be calling, who have needs and concerns, are not going to be people who have supported you. And that's OK. You still work for them.
Honor: Dold has yet to sit down with Dan Seals