Illinois Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, already facing an uphill battle for re-election, is entering the crucial final week before Election Day weakened by comments about his opponent that critics attacked as racist and “beyond reprehensible.”
Two organizations whose endorsements Kirk touted as indicators of his independence withdrew their backing over the weekend, issuing blistering rebukes. Both said they’re now supporting Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.
Democrats are relying on winning Illinois as they look to regain control of the U.S. Senate. The party must pick up four or five seats to do so, depending on whether they retain control of the White House.
Kirk spent the weekend away from the public eye - a highly unusual move for any candidate in the waning days of a campaign, but one that allowed him to avoid rehashing the incident in the media. Duckworth had a full campaign schedule, including get-out-the-vote events with civil rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
* Actually, Kirk was at the Coleman-Oliver Foundation’s Black Coffee Agenda on the city’s South Side on Saturday morning. According to Kirk’s campaign, he then held a “town hall” meeting at Silk N Classy Barbershop in Dolton later in the day, and used the opportunity to get a haircut.
Kirk also did a candidates’ forum with the Chicago Sinai Congregation on Sunday. Tammy Duckworth attended that event as well.
* How do I know this? Simple. First, I looked at Kirk’s Twitter account and then asked his campaign for more details. The Sun-Times also previewed the Sinai event. According to the Kirk campaign, the AP never bothered to call and check.
Look, it’s not like the incumbent had an action-packed weekend, but he did do some things. We don’t need to make this worse than it already is.