JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Republican Jim Talent could become the newest member of the U.S. Senate as early as this week, when Missouri Secretary of State Matt Blunt is scheduled to certify the Nov. 5 election results.
Blunt, whose father is U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri and the new House majority whip, is scheduled to certify the results at 1 p.m. Thursday in his state Capitol office.
Election results are due from local election authorities to Blunt's office on Tuesday. By law, Blunt actually has until mid-December to certify the results.
Democratic Gov. Bob Holden and Blunt, a Republican, are required to sign a certificate of election that must be sent to the president of the U.S. Senate.
Holden spokeswoman Mary Still said Monday that the governor would notify the U.S. Senate "immediately" following the certification of the election and send a letter Thursday by registered mail.
It remained unclear Monday whether the mailed document was required for Talent to take office or whether a copy could be faxed to Washington and hand-delivered to the Senate by Talent or someone else.
Also unclear was whether the Senate would still be in session by the time Talent's election certification arrives.
If the Senate already has adjourned, Talent actually could become a senator more quickly. His term would begin when the certification occurs in Missouri -- not when the paperwork is received in Washington, said Richard Baker, the U.S. Senate historian.
"Once the Senate adjourns, the appointed senator's term comes to an end, and Mr. Talent becomes Senator Talent," Baker said. "He can be sworn in by any official who is entitled to give an oath the day after the Senate adjourns."
Once Talent is a senator, he can begin hiring staff, moving into an office and handling the official duties of the office.
Unofficially, Talent won 50 percent of the nearly 1.9 million votes cast in the Nov. 5 election to Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan's 48 percent.
Talent was elected to serve the remaining four years of a six-year term to which Democrat Jean Carnahan was appointed after the death of her husband, then-Gov. Mel Carnahan.
Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash on Oct. 16, 2000, but nonetheless won election to the Senate three weeks later, creating a vacancy.
Mrs. Carnahan gave a farewell speech Monday on the Senate floor, reflecting on her time in the Senate and the circumstances that brought her there.
"I leave realizing that to have served in the United States Senate for even a short while is an honor afforded very few," Carnahan said. "I still believe, as did my husband, that public service is a good and noble work, worthy of our lives."
On the Net
Missouri Secretary of State: http://www.sos.state.mo.us