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*** UPDATED x1 *** Dominoes begin to fall - Kirk to run for Senate

Wednesday, Jul 8, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 12:59 pm - Cillizza reports that Kirk is in

Just hours after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan took herself out of the running for the seat held by Sen. Roland Burris (D), Rep. Mark Kirk (R) has begun telling influential folks in Washington that he will make the race.

Kirk is widely regarded as the strongest candidate Republicans can field given his proven ability to win votes in a Democratic leaning district and his fundraising prowess. ]…]

National Republicans seem likely to line up behind Kirk although Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna is in Washington today meeting with people about a possible candidacy, according to a D.C. source familiar with the visit.

* 1:01 pm - Confirmed that he’s calling around and telling people he’s in.

*** UPDATE - 1:55 pm *** Remember this from yesterday? I wonder how McKenna’s DC meeting went today? Probably not well…

The head of the Illinois Republican Party is making a move to run for the U.S. Senate.

Andy McKenna Jr. is due in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to meet with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and with GOP members of the state’s congressional delegation. Key among the latter is North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk, who so far has not heeded pleas by party leaders to run, creating a political vacuum.

Poor timing on McKenna’s part. But several top Republicans were convinced as of yesterday that LMadigan was running for Senate, which would’ve kept Kirk out.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent out a blast e-mail that includes highly favorable snippets from today’s Kirk coverage. Many are taking that as a message to McKenna to get the heck out.


  1. - Bardo2 - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:02 pm:

    Bad move, Mark. Obama pulls out all stops to keep his old Senate seat. The smart play is running for Gov…

  2. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:04 pm:

    I think it’s a good move by Kirk. Either Kennedy or Alexi is beatable.

  3. - Fan of the Game - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    Andy McKenna? Well, if it takes him out of the Party chair, it’s probably a good thing.

  4. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:07 pm:

    Does Dan Seals try one mor erun in IL-10?

  5. - Nikoli - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:07 pm:

    Between his horrible vote on Cap & Trade, and now looking like a political wuss waiting on Lisa to make a move before declaring, Kirk is looking worse and worse every day.

  6. - Shore - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:08 pm:

    Looks like Team America and I will be a force here for the next 16 months. :)

    For the record, Kirk has won in the most liberal suburbs of chicago, the upscale 61 percent obama voting, jan schakowsky loving area of the north shore where I reside. I look for republicans in more conservative areas downstate and in more conservative burbs in roskam,crane,weller,hastert,biggert land to get behind him to stop Obama. I also think Kirk can win young lakefront professionals, many of whom grew up in the conservative suburbs but live in the city.

    At the very least we now get several great new stories, Kirk versus the white house, kirk versus the conservatives, kirk versus alexi, hynes versus quinn, the next generation of the GOP versus the democrats.

    love it.

  7. - Reformer - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:09 pm:

    Will Kirk get primaried from the right? Except on foreign policy, he votes like a liberal Democrat on gays, guns, abortion and cap-and -tax. Good positions for a general election in the 10th CD, but not so good in a GOP primary.

  8. - City Boy - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:09 pm:

    This is great news for the Republicans. Finally a competitive race in Illinois!

  9. - Shore - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    This also opens up a congressional seat. I like Doug O’Brien, Kirk’s former chief of staff. Whatever republican it is, will have to be left wing to win the district.

  10. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:11 pm:

    Wumpus… quite possible. Several folks didn’t think Michael Bond would have a clear field.

    It’ll be interesting to see what shapes up on the R side of the 10th primary. Several have mentioned Beth Coulson.

  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:13 pm:

    I don’t think Kirk is a slam-dunk in a statewide GOP primary. Certainly he’ll have at least one challenger from the right.

  12. - Team America - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:16 pm:

    I may have to re-name my blog.

  13. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:16 pm:

    Kirk will win the senate. ALL republicans need to get behind him and get behind now! Otherwise you Illinois will have two democratic senators, again.

    Remember the lesson of Peter Fitzgerald. Hopefully you learned from that. If All republicans had supported him, Obama would not be president now.

  14. - Team America - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:19 pm:

    And/or take a leave of absence from work.

    Lots of excitement ahead!

  15. - clj - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:29 pm:

    The blunders of the IL GOP continue. How sad a state of affairs it is for a top tier candidate to make an announcement hours after a leading Democrat decides not to run for that particular office. So he really waited until Lisa made up her mind. He really thought he had no way of beating her. What makes him so sure that he will win, to now get into the race?

    At least fake it like most politicians and wait a couple of weeks to make an announcement. Then at least you can say it wasn’t about Lisa, but a need to wrap things up in DC first!

  16. - Niles Township - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:31 pm:

    This is a decent move for Kirk. There are plenty of Dems who have voted for him in the 10th. I can see him beating Alexi. Kennedy is still a wild card for me. It just depends on how he runs.

  17. - siriusly - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:31 pm:

    Kirk will be a very formidable candidate for the Senate seat. The Dems will have a hard time keeping it with either Alexi or Chris Kennedy. I think Kennedy will be the better candidate. As a candidate against soldier-boy Alexi doesn’t look so good. Kennedy seems like a “fresher” better option I think. He’s also a grown-up and comes from Kirk’s district.

    Bond doesn’t have a clear field, there are already 2-3 other no names running for the 10th plus Susan Garrett hasn’t said what she’s doing yet either. Her seat is not up in ‘10 so she could make a free run if she wants to. She could probably raise a lot of money. Seals may run again, but most people in these parts don’t want him to. His campaign in ‘08 was very flat.

  18. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:33 pm:

    The lesson of Peter Fitzgerald is that if you’re a republican and your break party ranks on anything you will be an outcast. I think Kirk has already learned that. There’s only a small chance I’ll be voting for Kirk, but at least I won’t be horrified if he wins.

  19. - HK1979 - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:33 pm:

    Beth Coulson is probably the only candidate who can win for the R’s in IL-10.

  20. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:34 pm:

    == …I will be a force here for the next 16 months. ==

    Groan. LOL! Seriously…

    == … I look for republicans in more conservative areas downstate…. ==

    He’ll have to overcome the view that he’s just another gun-grabbing politician - this time a Republican. That’s not promising as downstaters go.

  21. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:36 pm:

    TA, You could call it Larry’s Loo. ;)

    You’ll have to come up with more fun put-downs for a whole new set of candidates. That in and of itself may indeed require your leave of absence.

    Ravenswood, I wouldn’t be so sure about the “beatability” of the Dem nominee unless in some bizarre happenstance Sen. Burris eeks out a plurality in February.

    There will be a governor’s race which will bring out both sides.

    I do think Republicans will be fired up (the respective national conservative orgs are good at that) but there are still more Dems in the state. A whole lot of them would have to sit it out.

    That said, Kirk is probably one of the most campaign- and media-savvy candidates the GOP could find irregardless of where the state party is.

    But, he’ll be going up against not just a D Senate candidate but a D Senate candidate who will benefit from not just Obama’s national campaign effort but also his still strong state ties and campaign experience.

    Mr. Elk will have his work cut out for him.

  22. - Reformer - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:38 pm:

    If Coulson runs for Congress, it’s pretty likely her House seat goes Democratic. If Mathias runs for Congress, Republicans would have better odds of keeping the House seat since it’s less Democratic than Coulson’s.

  23. - SangamoGOP - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:39 pm:

    Does anyone really think that liberal/swing Republican voters who turned out in droves in DuPage and the collars for Obama will now get behind Mark Kirk rather than Obama’s choice? The voters that Mark Kirk hopes will get behind him to “stop Obama”, like Obama and they will see Obama in Alexi. They already gave their vote to Obama. Now they will be asked to make sure that the US Sente stays Blue so that he can “finish what they have started together.” The swing voters in the collars believe that their vote wasn’t in vain and they will provide Kirk with the same numbers (or less) than McCain received.

  24. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:52 pm:

    A Burris primary win is now a possibility after being an impossibility. The candidacies of Giannoulais and Kennedy can split the non-Burris primary voters, leaving this whack-job a possible winner. The Democrats will have to ask one of these overambitious bloviators to step aside. It should be Kennedy that drops out and chooses a more realistic second tier office to prove his abilities, as Giannoulais has.

    Kirk can beat Kennedy, while Giannoulais will have to be beaten using the missteps he has taken, which are few but notable.

    The GOP has a real shot next year for both the governor’s office and for the US Senate seat.

    Obama? With his popularity on the wane, he may not be the guy you would want to be campaigning with this time next year. Popular with the Democrats, of cource, but anathema for the GOP and Independant voters, as well will see.

  25. - State Sen. Clay Davis - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    Kirk’s specialty is running locally. This makes him a very dangerous opponent for Dems - he is well-versed in local issues, connects well on quality of life issues (environment, gangs, health) and has the Boy Scout image.

    Kirk’s ground game was a mess, but his press office is the best around. That guy gets clips in so many papers it’s ridiculous.

  26. - AJ - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:08 pm:

    Even though I am a lifelong Democrat and flaming liberal, I would have considered voting for Kirk for either Senate or Gov. I considered him a dedicated, intelligent, honest and experience public servant. That changed when he came out on June 12 in favor or increasing the penalty for first time possessors — not distributors — of high-strength marijuana to 25 years in jail. First of all, what in the world is he doing even thinking about marijuana possession penalties? He is a US Congressman, not a state legislator. Secondly, if marijuana laws are going to be discussed, the debate should be over how to de-criminalize and tax the largest cash crop in Illinois and America. There would be no deficit at any level of government if marijuana were regulated and taxed. In the same vein, the only good that will come out of the cutbacks in funding for the Dept. of Corrections is that first time offenders and other victimless drug crimes will be released and/or not prosecuted in the first place. When will people wake up and realize that all the billions spent on drug interdiction will not prevent even one person from going out and getting the drug of their choice this evening. We are paroling serious offenders — like the mass murderer in SC — because over 80% of the people in jail are their for drug crimes. The anti-drug laws are successful in one respect: they keep drugs illegal and therefore keep the price artificially high. It is not drugs, but illegal drugs, which are warping all aspects of our society, from the court system, police enforcement, gang income, gun purchases, etc.

    Mark Kirk is wasting our time.

  27. - Shore - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:10 pm:

    To the Kirk haters.

    -3 times in 5 races he’s had the full national dem machine thrown at him in historically awful election years for Republicans here in Illinois 00,06,08. 3 wins in the most liberal suburban area of the state.

    -Kirk will likely make the argument to the conservatives that he’s with them on taxes, the economy, national security and will be open to listening to them/voting with them on judges as most moderate republicans are. What’s more conservatives can threaten him with a primary to keep him in line. You can’t do that to a dem.

    -Conservatives better understand that kirk with them is better than an iron door shut in their face that alexi would bring. Also that beating dick durbin in 4 years isn’t going to be easy so this is the best chance to stop obama in the senate.

    -He’s been the top gop fundraiser in the house or near top. He will do VERY well raising money in the city where representing the wealthiest district in the state will help. He also will get heavy support from republican jews, dozens of whom were bush’s top fundraisers because of his stand on israel.

    -The media will have a man crush on him as they do all moderate republicans. Particularly against alexi who as I said earlier doesn’t know his fata from his fatah.

  28. - The Doc - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:22 pm:

    Yeesh. Another year-plus of Shore fawning and groveling about Kirk?

  29. - E Pluribus - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:22 pm:

    Great news for the GOP. If Kirk gets a primary it won’t be from a credible conservative. I don’t see Roskam or any conservative legislator running, so maybe a fringe activist may run. That could actually strengthen Kirk in the general. Remember when a right winger challenged Edgar in the primary and got 25% of the vote. Edgar went on to win by the biggest margin in state history.

  30. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:24 pm:

    State Sen. Clay Davis,

    Please let us know which Congressional District’s ground game you were looking at because it wasn’t Kirk’s in the 10th.

    I saw plenty of evidence of Kirk’s ground game in action, in both 06 and 08.

  31. - Adam Smith - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:30 pm:

    The Kirk-haters are way off base. He votes like a liberal? Card Check? Stimulus? Earmarks? Tort reform? Free trade? Income tax cuts? Socialized medicine? Those are some pretty big issues where Kirk is a loyal Republican.

    The Dems and Dan Seals spent a few million trying to convince everyone that Kirk is the lapdog of George Bush and the Republican Party voting 85% of the time with his party. Some liberal!

    Kirk is a centrist. It’s a word we don’t see often in Illinois. It’s time for the hyperpartisan right and left to get reacquainted with the word since it is what independent voters are looking for.

    And unlike the President who pretended to be “post-partisan” to win votes, Kirk can prove that he has centrist principles and will stick to them.

  32. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:36 pm:

    shore, I agree. the republican senate candidate will need to court moderate democrats and indepedents in order to win. kirk appeals to these two key voting blocs. even if he is not “ideal” by hard core conservative standards, he is better than nothing. it really would behoove all republicans to STOP bashing him and just focus on the parts of him that they like/ can go along with.

    Illinois republicans need to think strategically and think bigger picture.

    Mark Kirk has vast/superior knowledge of federal issues in comparison to anyone that the dems have now and conceivably anyone they might try to put up in the near future.

    I believe that Kirk’s moderate/indpendent appeal and federal experience made him a huge threat to the white house, which is why they courted lisa.

  33. - Shore - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:39 pm:

    The Doc,

    If you had been a republican and witnessed 2 years of Obama/lisa madigan-ade being served in the national and local media, you’d accept my support. Watch lynn sweet on wttw last night 8 minutes of obama groveling to go along with a paper that’s been cheeleading for him for years. No mention of kirk, no mention of republicans, and never ever a thought about conservatives.

    Also for the record, I am the most-anti-Kirk person on team america’s blog. He’s let his district get too pro-democrat for my taste, wastes too much time on overseas issues, and hasn’t lead enough of a fight against the democrats. Other than that if he goes specter on us, I will be up in blog-commenting arms against him.

  34. - 10th Indy - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:51 pm:

    I’ve already got a primary dilemma:

    Pull a Rep ballot to vote for Kirk? or
    Pull a Dem ballot to vote for Garret?

  35. - The Doc - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 2:55 pm:


    My comment was partially in jest, just so you know.

    It just seems to me that the typical GOP reaction is the usual bromide about media bias and such, followed by a supercharged line-item list of their candidate’s bona fides.

    I grew up in the 10th, am not a particular fan of Lisa Madigan, and think Obama has done a good job only in relation to the rudderless ship known as the GOP.

    And claiming to be the most anti-Kirk person on TA’s blog is akin to claiming Keith Olbermann is the most moderate anchor on MSNBC.

  36. - Segatari - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 3:05 pm:

    >-Kirk will likely make the argument to the conservatives that he’s with them on taxes, the economy, national security and will be open to listening to them/voting with them on judges as most moderate republicans are. What’s more conservatives can threaten him with a primary to keep him in line. You can’t do that to a dem.

    And then he contradicts himself massively with his vote for the reckless irresponsible economy-killing cap&trade bill. Yeah THAT will win conservatives over…

  37. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 3:06 pm:

    Kirk isn’t Peter Fitzgerald but it doesn’t matter. If republicans can’t rally ’round a proven campaigner who can bring in the moderate vote they don’t deserve to have the senate seat (or the gov mansion either). No single voter will never find a candidate who agrees with him unless that voter runs for office. I’ll be out there campaigning for Kirk for senate and (?) for Gov. Let’s take the state back from the democratic cartel!

  38. - Downstate Republican - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 8:18 pm:

    I won’t be voting for Kirk unless its a choice between him and Burris. Kirk is too liberal for my taste, but Burris is just plain dumb.

  39. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 8, 09 @ 10:06 pm:

    Great move on Kirk’s part. For those of you blasting him for waiting, you must not have noticed that he pounced quickly when the time was right.

    The word “strategery” (sic, lol) must not be part of your vocabulary. (And who says Rs don’t have a sense of humor?!!!)

    You go, Boy! You can win this one.

  40. - Rob_N - Thursday, Jul 9, 09 @ 8:24 am:


    I mentioned to Phocion earlier … people weren’t blasting him for waiting … they weren’t blasting him for possibly considering staying put either …

    They were blasting him because he clearly stated he was waiting for Lisa Madigan. It’s a sign of weakness in some people’s minds that he had to wait to make his decision on someone from the other party.

    In other words, if he was confident in himself and his decisions, why wouldn’t he simply decide to run for Senate? Instead, he told people he would make his decision based on someone else’s decision (and then he literally did just that, within hours no less).

    That looks to many like a lapdog, not a leader.

  41. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 9, 09 @ 8:56 am:

    It’s not a weakness, Rob. Kirk is obviously committed to making sure that we retain our seats, and possibly gain a few more.

    Being one of the strongest Candidates we have for a variety of reasons–including the probability that he could win his choice of office–he decided to go for the one for which he was not only qualified, but ALSO had an excellent chance of winning. Therefore, whether Lisa ran or not had to be considered.

    If there’s room for speculation regarding “weakness”, it’s the scenario where all are aggressively pushing a candidate to run in one direction, and the candidate runs in the other.

  42. - jls - Thursday, Jul 9, 09 @ 10:20 pm:

    The last thing we need is another RINO (republican in name only) in our Senate. When Mark Kirk voted for cap and trade, he lost my vote.

    BTW, If he wanted to cap taxes & spending…. and trade in the congressmen - especially those who think they can spend our money better than we can… That would be great.

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