Pritzker urges Republican delegation to publicly declare Biden the victor, support presidential transition

Tillis-Cunningham Debate

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker answers questions from the media during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic from his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool)

ILLINOIS (NEXSTAR) — In a two-page letter that described the alarming rise in Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, Governor J.B. Pritzker urged all five Republicans members of Congress to publicly call on President Trump to end his administration’s obstruction of the transition process.

“The stakes for bipartisan cooperation could not be higher,” Pritzker wrote on Tuesday, arguing that any delay in a transition of power or any breakdown in the national effort to fight the Coronavirus could put lives at greater risk in Illinois.

“The federal government’s ability to execute its functions are being compromised by President Trump, The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and Republican elected officials who are refusing to acknowledge the results of the election and failing to assist President-elect Biden and his transition team,” he said.

“The failure to assist President-elect Biden and his transition team during this critical time is placing American lives at stake and will compromise the state’s ability to suppress the spread of the virus and pivot towards economic recovery.”

Pritzker asked the Republicans “to publicly acknowledge President-elect Biden as the winner of the election and to call upon President Trump and the GSA to immediately support all transition-related functions. We cannot afford to lose time or momentum in the fight against COVID-19.”

The letter, which was later obtained by Nexstar’s Illinois Capitol Bureau, did very little to elicit fresh responses from the Republican delegation.

Congressman Rodney Davis pointed blame back at Democrats in power two decades ago and said that, “These types of issues are not isolated to one political party or President.”

“Many on the left forget that Vice President Gore challenged the results of the 2000 election and took that all the way to the Supreme Court while then President Bill Clinton’s Administration refused transition services to President-elect George W. Bush,” Davis said through a spokesperson.

Unlike President-elect Biden’s decisive victory that carried several swing states and the popular vote, the contested election in 2000 came down to fewer than a thousand votes in just one key swing state that could have swung the race in Al Gore’s favor. And yet those transition delays in a much closer election still carried deadly consequences, according to President Bush’s former Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

“Obviously, the year 2001, after George Bush became president included September 11th, 2001, and the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and that plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania,” Card recently told CBSN.

“The 9/11 Commission, when they reviewed everything that had happened up and to that attack and what contributed to it, they actually cited that the transition should have been allowed to have more time and more information shared with the incoming president so that he could be prepared.” 

While he said “a smooth transition of services to our constituents and should be the standard practice for Presidential elections,” Davis also encouraged the President to continue fighting his political battles until the final electoral votes are certified.

“The President has every legal right to challenge the results of the election, just as candidates from both parties have done in the past,” Davis said. “Claims of voter fraud should absolutely be investigated and the legal process that settles disputes in the election should be allowed to play out prior to the Electoral College voting next month.”

His office did not respond to questions asking whether Davis agreed with President Trump’s disputed claims that “dead people voted” or that ballot counters switched votes from Trump to Biden.

Another Republican Congressman rumored to be gauging interest in running for governor in 2022 did not directly call on the President to concede or the General Services Administration to certify the results, but did encourage the Trump administration to cooperate with the “apparent” winner.

“We’ve got to move forward with a transition,” Congressman Adam Kinzinger told a local radio show Thursday morning, before he encouraged President Trump to continue contesting the results.

“You can do that — you can congratulate him on an apparent victory — and at the same time say where there’s irregularity, we have to go after this.”

The radio host asked Kinzinger to respond to the recent efforts in Wayne County, Michigan, where two Republicans on the Board of Canvassers briefly refused to certify the election results in an apparent attempt to bypass the will of the voters. Those canvassers ultimately reversed course and certified the results, further cementing Biden’s victory in Michigan.

“If I would give recommendation to President Trump, it would be first off, let’s get a little less of the TV action on this and a little more of actual legal stuff,” Kinzinger said.

“There is going to be no doubt that there is voter fraud out there,” Kinzinger said. “I think there is in every election. Is it enough to overturn an entire election? Probably not. I don’t think so. But he has every right to pursue that. At the same time, we can’t start throwing out things like ‘fraudulent election’ until we know, because that is the kind of thing in my mind that has long-term implications.”

On November 7th, the day the Associated Press called the race for Joe Biden, Congressmen John Shimkus (IL-15th) and Adam Kinzinger (IL 16th) were the first Illinois Republicans to wish Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris well. Both have since publicly referred to Biden as the President-elect.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger wrote, “Our nation deserves two competing parties who can work together when possible, and compete honorably when not.”
In a November 7th Facebook post, Congressman John Shimkus wrote,” I wish President-elect Joe Biden well.”

On November 9th, two days after the Associated Press called the race for President-elect Biden, Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) released a statement supporting the President’s legal challenges.

“While I am disappointed by the current presidential results, I am a firm believer that fair, legal, and ethical elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and their integrity must be protected,” LaHood said at the time.

“I support President Trump’s effort to ensure all legal votes are counted, and any evidence of impropriety must be investigated in a transparent way and litigated in the courts to ensure all Americans have faith in the electoral process.”

A spokesman for LaHood said he “does believe that it is appropriate for Joe Biden to be afforded access to intelligence and security briefings.”

Shimkus, the longest tenured Republican member of Congress from Illinois, is stepping down at the end of this term. He’s the only Congressional Republican from Illinois to describe former Vice President Biden as the President-elect.

“While never perfect, American elections have consistently been free and fair,” Shimkus wrote. “Our local and state election officials do important and under-appreciated work to ensure they are. This year’s election is no different.

“The peaceful transition of power is a signal to the world of the strength of democracy and the resilience of our Republic. Even though I supported his opponent, I wish President-elect Joe Biden well.”

Congressman Mike Bost’s office did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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