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IL-Sen: McKenna Clears Way for Kirk



Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna said today that he will step aside if Rep. Mark Kirk runs for the Senate, clearing the way for Congressman to claim the GOP nomination.

"As party chairman my goal has been to build party unity," said McKenna in a statement. McKenna added that he and Kirk had met Sunday night and that "I reassured Mark that if he chooses to be a candidate, I will not oppose him."

The McKenna statement ends a weekend of raw politics in which state and national Republicans sought to push him out of the contest in favor of Kirk who they believe is the stronger general election candidate.

Kirk, who decided not to run on Friday and informed several Republican operatives of his decision before reconsidering, is also likely to win the unanimous endorsement of the Illinois congressional delegation, according to a source close to Kirk. Kirk is not expected to formally enter the race until later this week or even early next week.

While the manner in which Kirk got into the race isn't ideal, national Republican recruiters have to be ecstatic at the way things shook out over the weekend.

Kirk is a proven vote-getter in a Democratic-leaning House district and a strong fundraiser -- he showed more than $1 million on hand at the end of June.

That combination makes his candidacy a major recruiting success for national Republicans who can now count Illinois as one of the places -- along with Colorado, Connecticut and, maybe, Nevada and Pennsylvania -- where they plan to play offense in the 2010 election cycle.

The next domino to fall will be in Delaware where national Republicans have grown increasingly confident that Rep. Mike Castle (R) will make a run for the seat vacated by Vice President Joe Biden. Biden's son, Beau, the state's attorney general, is expected to be the Democratic nominee.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 13, 2009; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Either Kirk of the head of the GOP doesn't get it. Kirk fell out of any favor in the rest of Il. when he was one of eight republicans to vote for CRAP and TAX. He doesn't get that Republicans outside of the 10th district don't want another DEM from our state. He'll have to repair major damage to be considered by folks in the southern part of Il. We are sick to death of the Northern mafia running things and "representing us.

Posted by: anniestl | July 14, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I think you're completely out of touch with what is going on here in Illinois.

McKenna isn't "stepping aside" out of some sense of sacrifice. He's afraid to run because he knows he's done an awful job as GOP chair. He couldn't get elected dog catcher. This is a guy who came in a distant 4th in the senate primary in 2004. He's a LOT less popular now. The guy is already way over his head.

Kirk, same deal. He may run, but he's scared to death to go statewide. Most of Illinois is nothing like his liberal corner of it in the 10th Congressional. Republicans are furious over his vote for cap and trade, and the base already had major concerns. His recent divorce isn't going to help with the gay rumors either.

If the GOP doesn't find someone better than Kirk or McKenna, this is another easy race for the Dems.

Posted by: fromillinois1 | July 14, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Kirk's dithering doesn't look good, but he's a proven fundraiser & vote getter in IL, so he'll put up a strong fight.

Its interesting how strong the Republican recruitment is this cycle, particularly in the blue states. While struggling to attract good names in formerly red states like NV & CO, the GOP have had coups in states like IL, NH, CT, and maybe DE.

Posted by: JayPen | July 13, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how worried I'd be now. This guy refused to run against a strong Democratic opponent or even a primary challenger. I wonder what would happen if Alan Keyes decided to run again.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 13, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

This is an odd turn of events, and who knows if Kirk will ultimately run or not at this point. I predicted that McKenna would bow out & clear the way for Kirk to the nomination a week ago here. With Kirk in, Ill. is definately in play. CC, I don't see R's playing offense in Pennsylvania. I do think they will play offense in Illinois, Delware (if they get Castle), Arkansas, Colorodo, Connecticut, New York (if they get Pataki), California & Wisconsin (if they get Ryan or T. Thompson). Now, that's 3 if's. I believe Castle & Pataki will run in Delaware & New York, but I'm not sure about T. Thompson or US Rep. Ryan running in Wisconsin. Time will tell this story.

Posted by: reason5 | July 13, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

mnteng writes
"In two tangentially related developments, it looks like Dodd and Sestak each pulled in over $1 M for the second quarter this year.

The GOP playing offense in PA doesn't seem like a good use of resources unless they run someone more moderate than Toomey."


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 13, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Where is his flag lapel pin?

Posted by: whocares666 | July 13, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The leading intellect of the left:

With multiple Academy Awards, Grammys, Emmys and a Special Tony Award to her credit, Barbra Streisand is inarguably among the world’s most successful and renowned entertainers. Yet Streisand is also a noted environmental activist, (Snip) I spent months talking to experts who studied the effects of climate change, and I learned about the work of leading environmental organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Environmental Defense Fund

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

In two tangentially related developments, it looks like Dodd and Sestak each pulled in over $1 M for the second quarter this year.

The GOP playing offense in PA doesn't seem like a good use of resources unless they run someone more moderate than Toomey.

Posted by: mnteng | July 13, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to imagine how much stupider a human could be than the resident loco drivl. now we have a wanna-be accomplice too -- nodegris, a smaller, more ignorant version of the all hate, all the time moonbat in chief.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | July 13, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

"Offense" is certainly what they play, CC -- it's hard to imagine how much more offensive repubicans could be.

Posted by: drindl | July 13, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The Fix writes
"While the manner in which Kirk got into the race isn't ideal, national Republican recruiters have to be ecstatic at the way things shook out over the weekend."


Why would the manner in which Kirk got into the race have any influence on voters?

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 13, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Be careful what you wish for! Also, this public back-and-forth doesn't look good for the Republican party.

It makes Kirk look either reluctant or diva-like--and, unlike about-to-be ex-Gov. Palin, Kirk doesn't have the advantage of being a national or media presence, nor a (physically) attractive female.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | July 13, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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