Senator Mark Kirk votes in Highwood

Senator Mark Kirk votes at his Highwood polling precinct on November 6, 2012. (ABC7's Paul Meincke)

November 6, 2012 3:14:36 PM PST
Saying he feels good, Senator Mark Kirk cast his ballot in the 2012 Election on Tuesday morning in Highwood, Ill.

Kirk, who had a stroke in January 2012, walked with a cane from his car inside the polling location, where he was met with well wishes from voters and election judges. He stood at the voting booth with his four-pronged cane next to him.

As a former congressman, it's the first time in 12 years that his name isn't on the ballot. He said he feels good- even after climbing the Willis Tower in a Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago fundraiser.

"I must admit I took a long nap after 37 floors," Kirk said.

Kirk's rehab includes a lot of goal setting.

"Immediate goal is to climb the 45 steps that my staff counted from the parking lot to the front door of the Senate. There were a lot more than 45 steps to the Sears tower," Kirk said.

In January, the senator will return to Washington.

"Banning sewage dumping in the Great Lakes. That's my priority for this Congress," Kirk said.

Kirk has had multiple brain surgeries since his stroke. He doesn't hesitate to answer questions on the big issues. He gets a small bit of help steadying a paper as he signs his name and votes. Stroke patients often have a nine month window for making the most of rehab, Kirk said.

"I go to rehab every day and my physical training guys knock the bejesus out of me," Kirk said.

Kirk will be at Republican Bob Dold's headquarters on Election Night. Dold is running for re-election in the 10th District and Kirk appeared in a Dold campaign video earlier this week.

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