July 20, 2009
My turncoat GOP congressman announces for SenateBy Nancy J. Thorner
Given that my American Thinker blog of June 28 -- Betrayed by my Republican Congressman -- took to task my renegade 10th District congressman, Mark Steven Kirk, for his "yes" vote on the Waxman-Markey bill, I was somewhat amused when I received late in the afternoon of Thursday, July 16, an e-mail invitation to join Mark Kirk this morning at 10:30 A.M. in Kenilworth, IL, to help him launch his candidacy for statewide office. As Mark Kirk noted on my invitation: "I want you to be there as we begin a campaign to restore pride to Illinois and put our country back on track."
Kirk's decision to seek an upgrade to his title did not come as a surprise. For months Kirk had expressed interest in running either for the U.S. Senate or the governorship of Illinois. Senator Burris' announcement that he would not seek reelection to a full term in 2010 -- Burris was appointed to the U.S. Senate by the then and now impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich to replace Senator Obama -- apparently gave Mark Kirk the impetus he needed to think that he could be successful in his senate bid.
One must understand the nature of politics in Illinois to comprehend what prompted Mark Kirk to believe he could be successful in a statewide run for office. Mark Kirk represents the moderate/liberal wing of the Republican Party. Kirk even prides himself on being an independent, maverick Republican, as was evident when he decided to vote with 211 congressional Democrats and against 168 of his fellow Republican congressmen on the Waxman-Markey bill. Kirk does have the reputation in his 10th Congressional District of deciding how to vote by sticking his finger in the air to determine which way the wind is blowing.
Although a rather good Republican Platform exists in Illinois, it is given short shrift by Republican party leaders, state legislators and many Illinois Republicans. Andy McKenna, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, who was persuaded to drop his bid for the senate so Mark Kirk would not have to face meaningful opposition in the February 2010 Republican primary, represents, not unlike Mark Kirk, the moderate/left wing of the Republican Party.
It is Republican elites like Andy McKenna -- often called country club or limousine liberals -- who control the Illinois Republican Party. Republican elites, nationwide, mistakenly believe that the key to winning back the presidency, a majority in Congress, and achieving success in state and local election demands the endorsement and the promotion of moderate Republican candidates. National GOP strategists and state party leaders have decided that Mark Kirk has the best shot to take the Senate seat from Democrats. Presently Illinois is an economic disaster with Democrats in control of the governorship, state offices, and the General Assembly in Springfield. Unemployment now stands at 10.1%.
But shouldn't Mark Kirk follow the party platform if he wishes to represent all Illinois Republicans as their senator?
Other Illinois Republicans who are seeking Burris' senate seat are Dr. Eric Wallace, founder of the Freedom's Journal Magazine and co-chairman of the Cook County Republican Party; Robert Zadek, a Rockford businessman; Andy Martin, a public interest lawyer; Don Lowery, a retired southern Illinois judge; and John Arrington, a two-term alderman from the all-black Chicago suburb of Harvey. Arrington is endorsed by the Illinois Republican Assembly. All are more "Republican" than Mark Kirk, but only Kirk has the backing of the Illinois Republican political establishment and the means to raise the money needed to mount a statewide campaign.
Because of Kirk's strong allegiances and ties to environmental causes and groups, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the flawed statistics used by Kirk to justify his "yes" vote came from donors who would benefit from the Cap and Trade bill. Champion News reported on July 15 that one of the largest contributors to U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk since he won his first race for Congress in 2000 was Chicago-based energy giant Exelon Corporation -- a total of $94,873. Exelon ranks as Kirk's second largest contributor over his entire career. Exelon is the largest producer of electricity in the U.S. and would reap huge windfall financial benefits, estimated at a billion dollars a year, should climate control legislation pass both the House and the Senate.
Kirk wasted no time in defending his "yes" "Cap and Trade" vote. Shortly after his unfortunate vote was cast in the House on Friday, June 16, Kirk sent out a letter to his 10th District constituents, including me, attempting to justify his support for the Waxman-Markey bill. The president of Chicago's prestigious Heartland Institute, Joseph Blast, author or editor of several publications on climate change, most recently the 880-page Climate Change Reconsidered by S. Fred Singer and Craig Idso, blasted Kirk's constituent letter and pointed out all of its fallacies.
Kirk is presently on a marathon town meeting cycle trying to justify his radical and unjustified "yes" vote after being brutally raked over the coal for his vote and even booed while participating in 4th of July parades. Kirk is trying to appease his constituents by telling them that "cap and trade" would only cost 10th District voters $117 or so per month, and because he knew the bill would die in the Senate, it did no harm for him to vote for it. Recently Kirk has made attempts to weasel out of his vote by informing some constituents that his "yes" vote on Waxman-Markey was the "worst" vote he had ever made.
But will Illinois Republicans rally around and work to elect Kirk as senator because it is the pragmatic thing to do? Will voters decide that any Republican would be better thana Democrat? The Republican Party elite think so.The U.S. Senate already has a number of maverick Republicans who weave from one side of the aisle to another. Among them are Collins (ME); Lugar (IN); Martinez (FL); Snowe (ME) and Voinovich (OH). Given that the Democrats already have a filibuster-proof majority of 60 members, do we need another maverick Republican who is not loyal to his party?
Illinois Republicans might find undesirable Kirk's role in his sponsorship of Hate Crimes legislation. Kirk was the lead House sponsor of H.R. 1319 that passed the House 249 - 175 several weeks ago. Several days ago the Senate passed its version of a federal "hate crimes" law (S. 909), "which creates federal protections and privileges to homosexuals and others who have chose alternative sexual lifestyles." It was shamefully added as an attachment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010.
Mark Kirk will also have to answer to being the only Republican added on as a co-sponsor of HR 1966 which calls for monitoring and punishing cyberbulling. Both children and adults could be prosecuted under this bill. Since many cyberbullying incidents involving children in school settings are initiated or escalated away from schools, what happens when kids go home and use their laptops or cell phones? Would the threat of being sent to jail deter kids from harassing each other?
In a state where the number of registered Democrats far exceeds Republicans, can Mark Kirk convince enough independent and moderate Democrat Illinois voters to cross over and vote for him? Kirk was able to do so in his North Shore Congressional District -- winning eight terms running as a moderate to liberal Republican -- because many of his north shore Republican voters are liberals.
The loss of angry conservative Republican voters may not be offset by Kirk's hope for crossover votes. Why would Democrats want to reduce their majority by voting for a Democrat-Lite Republican when they can have the real thing?
The path ahead for Congressman Kirk to achieve his senatorial dream will be a difficult and an expensive one. Kirk hopes to raise 25 million. It will involve coming face to face with a Democrat challenger in the 2010 November elections. Two Democrats have already declared their intent to run: Chris Kennedy, president of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.
Whether or not Mark Kirk has destroyed his political aspiration due to his "yes" vote on the Democrat's Global Warming bill, along with his past far-left positions in support of abortion (100% rating from Planned Parenthood), taxes and spending; the homosexual agenda, and his reputation as a gun grabber (F- rating by the NRA), will depend on Republican turnout. Mark Kirk has also angered many Republicans by being against the surge in Iraq. Kirk has only one leg to stand on. He possibly will be portrayed as a fiscal conservative, but in reality he's a very weak one.
Kirk will need Republican base voters to win statewide. Legislation championed by Mark Kirk as a congressman certainly stands in opposition to views held by many Illinois Republicans: individual rights, limited government, free markets and traditional values.
As an omen to those backing Kirk's Senate bid, and even Kirk himself, may they consider what happened to Judy Barr Topinka, former Illinois State Treasurer who rather than seek re-election as state treasurer in 2006, became the Republican challenger to unseat the now impeached Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich. Ms. Topinka received 37% of the vote to Rod Blagojevich's 49%, with a green candidate winning 10%.
In 2008 Dr. Steve Sauerberg attempted to unseat U.S. senior senator and Democrat Dick Durbin. Durbin was declared the winner early based on exit polls, piling up nearly 70% of the vote.
Running as moderate to liberal Republicans didn't bring victory to either Topinka or Sauerberg.
It is a given that Democrats will pull out all the stops to defeat Mark Kirk's senate bid the "Chicago way" in their determination to keep Burris' senate seat in the Democratic column. Kirk will have a nasty fight against a Democrat candidate who will have full support of the Chicago Democratic Machine, other party leaders across the state, and the national Democrat Party, with plenty of money pouring in.
It will be difficult for Republican Party faithful to work for the candidacy of someone who votes against the party platform more than he supports it. We want and deserve a candidate who offers a contrast to the Democrats, not a weak echo.
My opinion of Mark Kirk has not changed since June 28. I still feel Betrayed by my Republican Congressman. I will be there to greet Congressman Kirk with a sign of protest as he announces his senate candidacy.
Nancy Kulp Thorner is a precinct committeeman in Lake County, IL