WASHINGTON (AP) _ Today marks the last chance to set the wheels in motion for a special election to replace ailing Rep. John Grotberg, R-Ill., but an aide says the congressman and his family have no intention of letting that happen.

Steve Trossman, Grotberg's press secretary, said Tuesday that the lawmaker will hold onto his seat for the balance of his term, thus blocking a special election. He also said Grotberg will continue his candidacy for re-election in November.

''At this point, the position is that he's going to remain the candidate,'' Trossman said.

Grotberg lapsed into a coma in late January, sparked by an artery infection that occurred while he was undergoing an experimental cancer treatment.

He emerged from the coma in early March and was transferred April 21 to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for specialized therapy to further his recovery.

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, today is the last day on which a special election could be triggered for a replacement to fill the balance of the freshman's current term.

Bea Swartz, a board official, said that replacement process would be set in motion if Grotberg's seat were to be declared open today. But Trossman insisted there are no plans to do that.

Ms. Swartz also said that if Grotberg, who won re-nomination in the March 18 primary, resigns from the GOP ticket or is declared incapable of running, party officials within the congressional district would select a replacement candidate for the November general election.

Grotberg is alert and able to move, but is unable to talk because of an incision made in his neck to aid his breathing, Trossman said. The aide and officials at the institute were releasing little additional information about Grotberg's condition.