Monday, April 20, 2009

To Stump or Not to Stump?

The 10th Congressional District overlaps much of the lower right hand corner of Lake County, and is currently represented by Mark Kirk. Kirk has been agonizing lately -- and very publicly -- over whether to run in 2010 for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. Or to sit tight and hold on to what is by any estimation a safe congressional seat.

Your LakeCountyEye regards this open display of vacillation not so much as Mark Kirk being in touch with his inner Hamlet, but instead as Mark Kirk playing a game of political chicken with the Republican party state leadership.

To be the Republican Senate nominee, Kirk needs to first win the Republican primary. It's no secret that many Republican primary voters take their guns, gays and abortion with them into the voting booth. And Kirk knows they're not likely to vote for a socially-left-of-center and gun-hating, gay-loving, abortion-tolerating candidate like himself.

So he's been waiting for concessions and guarantees from party leaders including Andy McKenna. Essentially he's waiting for his get-out-of-the-primary-free card. The only response he's gotten from Springfield so far has been the sound of crickets. Kirk arguably would be the GOP's strongest Senate candidate. The fact that the Illinois Republican party is unwilling or unable to guarantee him a primary win points to their continuing state of disarray.

Your LakeCountyEye can now go out on a limb and predict that Mark Kirk intends to stand firm and run for re-election to the 10th Congressional District. Kirk is already preparing the field by vetting his forthcoming decision in his unofficial blog, TeamAmerica10th.

In a post called Join TA's Kirk Campaign Advisory Committee, you're invited to advise Kirk on what to do. There are already a half dozen similarly-worded anonymous comments that urge Kirk to forego the Senate and stay put.

This may all be a clever head-fake on Team-Kirk's part. But your LakeCountyEye thinks that not to be.


Team America said...

Thanks for the link, guys. However, you give little old TA a bit much credit; pump the Kirk staffers as I might, I don't have any better information than you do about where Congressman Kirk is going to come out on this.

The 'Advisory Committee' was my idea to fill a page that day (and not at all influenced or requested by Team Kirk), but I agree that it was interesting that most commentors seem to counsel Kirk to stay home in IL-10, for his sake and ours.

I am somewhat troubled by the undertone in your post that back-room dealing and eliminating the right of people to run for office and duke it out fairly in a primary is something expected, even condoned. If that wasn't the intent, then good, but that's the take-away I had from your post. I hope we have moved beyond that in both parties, and I think primaries can help strengthen and prepare a candidate (look what Hillary did to toughen up and polish Barack) and are not necessaily a thing to be avoided at all costs.

Plus, the way I look at it, if somebody wants to run and can get enough (legitimate) signatures on a petition to earn the right to be on a primary ballot, then I say have at it!

Anonymous said...

If Rep. Kirk runs, statewide, he would at least win the primary, since he's moderate. Dr. Sauerberg is moderate, and he won a statewide primary. Former Treasurer Topinka is moderate, and she won a statewide primary.

If Kirk doesn't run for re-election, State Rep. Coulson should run for his seat.

barney baxter said...

Hi TA. We feel the same pressure to churn up daily content for a voracious pack of readers. My personal blogging style tends toward the hyperbolic. It's a bad habit, but tolerated here -- we're the new kids on the block and we're trying to grow a reader base.

So of course I don't think any individual or any party can pre-wire the outcome of a state-wide primary. (At least not this day & age.) Anyone with the means to get the 5000 signatures can run for Senate in Illinois. But I'm not naive enough to think that any candidate wouldn't opt to get out of a primary battle if given the opportunity. Obama got into the Illinois Senate by knocking his primary opponents off the ballot.

Sure, a political party can't dictate a primary outcome, but they can put enough spin on the ball to control what direction it takes. My basic observation is that given the current state of the IL Republican Party, there isn't anyone in any position to spin that ball in any particular direction. Which probably is -- as you suggested -- so much the better for democracy in general. However I suspect that is cold comfort for Mark Kirk's Senate aspirations.

Also, Hi Anonymous. I used to live in Beth Coulson's district -- she would make a fine Rep for 10. But I know for a fact that there are many candidates lined up and waiting -- on both sides -- for a chance at Kirk's seat.

I don't share your confidence regarding Kirk's Senate prospects. If he makes it to the general election, it's his to lose. But he first has to make it to the general election. Easier said than done.


Nicki said...

I don't know how Illinois compares to other states, but here it's a fact that both of the main political parties have a lot to say about who runs in the primary. True, anyone who can get sufficient signatures can get on the ballot, but without the support (financial and otherwise) of their party, they would have an uphill battle. It's only to be expected that a prospective candidate would try to get some assurances before taking the plunge. Kirk is a smart guy, and I'm sure he won't run unless he has a pretty good idea who he'll be up against.

I agree with the comment that he may be too left-of-center for the downstate Republicans. In his own district, part of his support is based on the fact that he's fairly moderate. I'm guessing he won't run for Senate (thus disappointing those of both parties who have their eye on his Congressional seat).

barney baxter said...

I couldn't have expressed it better, Nicki.