Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Could Mark Kirk (IL-10) Snatch Obama's Senate Seat in a Special Election? (UPDATED x4 With Kirk's Statement of Interest)

In the wake of yesterday's bombshell arrest of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, folks on some of the Obama blogs and others are buzzing about whether a special election to fill the seat, which is being pushed by Senator Dick Durbin and others, might give moderate 10th District Congressman Republican Mark Kirk a window to successfully run against a crowded Dem field. Kirk would have to move quickly and hit the ground running, but no doubt would be supported by the national GOP who would see this as a hugely important psychological victory and momentum builder going into the 2010 mid-term elections.

Politico had this to say:

A well-connected GOP operative with ties to Illinois said Republican Rep. Mark Kirk is likely to consider running. Operatives from both parties agree Kirk would be a strong candidate.

Running from a North Shore House seat, Kirk would have political strength in the Chicago suburbs, said the operative. And having been challenged in consecutive cycles, he’s a formidable fundraiser, raising over $5 million for his House seat this cycle.

A naval officer, Kirk has a clean image with no ties to Springfield or the Chicago political machine.

Of course, the icing on the cake of all of this is that Kirk would not have to give up his congressional seat to run, which is not the case if he ran for senate or governor in 2010. Kirk, of course, has been mentioned as a possible 2010 senate contender, here and elsewhere.

But, what are the chances the stars will line up on this? As we speculated yesterday, will the special election (if that even happens) be 'open' or Dem-only? I confess to have no idea how that would work--but I'm not sure anyone else knows more at this point, either. While normally, I believe a special election is the same as a general, just held at a special time (see here), I would not put it past the IL General Assembly (under solid Dem control) to try to craft the legislation such that it protects the seat for Dem candidates only, if that's possible.

If it's a open election, would there be a primary among the Dems with Kirk the presumptive GOP nominee? Or would it be open to anyone who could meet the requirements to run, which might mean that Kirk stands alone with a crowded Dem field... paving the way to a real chance for a win? Or are we getting WAY too far ahead of ourselves? The other GOP candidates with an eye on state-wide office might just decide that they ought to be sitting in DC rather than battle Lisa Madigan for governor in 2010.

It's fun to speculate, as we have done before here, but Blago's arrest (coupled with the controversy over filling Obama's senate seat) opens up whole new vistas on the Illinois political landscape.

UPDATED x1: The Washington Post looks at the political fall-out and the senate issue, and states that:

Kirk, who has held the North Shore 10th district since 2000, is, without question, Republicans' strongest potential candidate. Kirk has proven his vote-getting ability in a swing district over the past few cycles, has a decidedly moderate voting record, and is among the strongest fundraisers among House GOPers. (Kirk raised $5.5 million for his 2008 race.) Kirk's problem would be the Republican primary as his record on social issues is anathema to the party's base. But, will conservatives forgo a chance to reclaim the seat by working to oust Kirk in a primary? Time will tell.

UPDATED x2: Roll Call is reporting that Congressman Mark Kirk indicated that he would be interested in running if there is a special election.

UPDATED x3: CQPolitics has a Fox News interview transcript with Mark Kirk in which Kirk says that he expects that "Senate Candidate #5" will also be indicted because the allegations show an "attempted bribery." ABC News is reporting that "Senate Candidate #5" is Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

UPDATED x4: Evening news wrap-up re Mark Kirk's possible run for Senate: Daily Herald, News-Sun and The Hotline. The liberals are truly scared that Kirk could cost them this (formerly) guaranteed Dem senate seat.


Anonymous said...

Timing, timing, timing......I am hopeful that the decison makers in Springfield and elsewhere leave the decision to the voters of this state on who represents us in the United States Senate. If they ultimately decide to close this process for Dems would be yet another dagger to the democratic body. Open it up and let the best person, as WE THE VOTERS SEE IT, emerge successfully. Hopefully, this upcoming sprint to a special election will shine brightly on Congressman Kirk and his campaign staff, formidable volunteer base and the help of TA spreading the word!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:26 I hope and pray that you're correct in assuming that the voters throughout the State will have a say in who can hold the open Senate Seat. If this is limited to only someone from the Democrat party it will be seen as more of the same old culture of corruption. We are the laughing stock of the nation as evidenced by last night's late night TV programs. As for our Congressman being someone who should have a shot at this seat - I would hope he goes for it. He has never been part of the Crook County gang, has little to do with Springfield folks. He is open, honest, and a public servant with the highest credentials. That said, it will still be a steep climb for anyone in the Republican party, regardless of his moderate stands on issues. It's fun to speculate. Then again, who's standing ready to be the Congressperson for the 10th District should the impossible become possible?

Anonymous said...

Alot of folks never thought John Porter's shoes could be filled - they were - that being said, the talent is out there.

The big issue is the Democrats inability to offer open and transparent government or politics.

TA, can you find out the procedures on how the special election would work. Republicans deserve a fair shot because voters in the State of Illinois are ready to make real change. I used to consider myself leaning independent to slightly left. I am so disgusted with the whole Democrat party, I would vote for a pig with lipstick if it were a Republican!

Anonymous said...

Given this week, I think it only appropriate that Peter Fitzgerald get first dibs on the nomination for U.S. Senator, a truly outstanding public servant who unlike Mark was the first to go to bat for Patrick Fitzgerald. He would be a great conservative and would enable mark to stay in this seat-unless you think Dodie McCracken has the name i.d. or Elizabeth Coulsen can raise the money to win this seat.

Also before you start outfitting Mark for office space in Hart Senate office building realize that the national media will be watching this general election like a hawk and that the obama white house will realize that it will be a major major major blow to his political standing if the democrats lose this race. He just raised $1 billion and has 4 million people that have given him money-one email alone written by some low level dnc hack with a degree from bumblefuck university could raise more in 24 hours than Mark raised in his best QUARTER.

Anonymous said...

Kirk fits better as Senator and Fitz fits better as Governor. That is how the stars should be lined. A grand bargain to unify against the corrupted Dems.

Anonymous said...

Agreed - it should be offered to Peter Fitzgerald first. He has stood up to the cronies on both sides of the aisle.

My fear is Peter left because Washington is just about as bad (if not worse) than Illinois and he got out before they got in...

Too bad

Anonymous said...

Kirk should run for Obama's seat in a special election and when he wins Tim Stratton should run for Mark's open seat in the 10th.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone assume that former Senator Peter Fitzgerald will return to Illinois to run for Senator? Or Governor? Or dog catcher? Or that he was "forced out" by Republicans/combines/ash borers or others?

He had the opportunity to be a United States Senator and then stand for reelection, but decided not to do so and relocated permanently to the east coast.

I never bought the argument that Peter Fitzgerald was forced out by any group of Republicans as he always came across as someone who could never be bullied or pushed out.

Will there be a primary before the special election? Isn't that up to the Illinois Legislature to decide if they change the rules to permit a special election? Will the Governor file suit in court to stop any usurption of his powers?

Right now there are far too many questions than answers.

Both national parties will certainly jump into the fray. But don't expect Peter Fitzgerald to jump in.

Louis G. Atsaves

Philippe said...

Fitz or whomever, but GOP factions in Illinois need to work to together and not fuck this up. Kirk is better suited for Senate and more conservative aspirants should demur, but then expect Kirk support their choice in the forthcoming governors race. United we rise, divided we are insignificant for a long time. These opportunities don't come around very often.

Philippe said...

"not demur"

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but to the person who dropped Dodie McCracken's name... are you kidding me?

She's a no-name, PR hack who was run out of Mark's district office a couple years after he took office due to total incompetence. Nice try.

Team America said...

Anon 2:13- you may be right about the Obama machine but don't forget that Mark has a lot to gain and pretty much nothing to lose since he doesn't need to risk his seat in a special.

Rusty said...

As an avowed Kirk-disliker on this blog, even I can recognize that he's the GOP's best pick for the senate: highly (if mistakenly) praised as a moderate and independent, he'd match up well against Tammy Duckworth (Kirk has military background, she has no experience), Jan Schakowsky or "Candidate No. Jackson Jones." The GOP will throw a ton of money in the race and the base will be active, not because they love Kirk but because they realize the GOP needs momentum. Conversely, Dems may have some "donor fatigue." He'll never have a better chance to be something other than a GOP House toady.

Anonymous said...

Rep. Kirk has a very good chance of at least winning the republican primary, since he's moderate. This year, Dr. Sauerberg was moderate, and he won his primary. In 2006, then-Treasurer Topinka was moderate, and she won her primary.

After Kirk becomes a U.S. senator, his replacement, in the U.S. House, should be St. Rep. Elizabeth Coulson. Last month, Kirk won the Cook Co. portion of his district, but he lost the Lake Co. portion. When he doesn't run for re-election, the best Republican would be a moderate state legislator who lives in Cook Co. Coulson lives in Glenview, and she's been a state rep. since 1999.

Phil Collins

Anonymous said...

I thought we finally lost you, Rusty. In spite of you and your buddies who tried everything and more to unseat Mark Kirk, he prevailed, will always prevail because he offers more of what voters realize is important than other candidates. Too bad you don't really know Mr. Kirk. You must have been reading all the clap trap foisted on the public by that lunatic with the cat on her lap, and the nutjobs from the 10th Dems. Do yourself a favor. Meet him. Do your own research on all that he has accomplished. Check his actual votes on issues, minus the procedural items and then you'll know that he most definitely is the moderate we admire. With all of this, his running for the Obama seat would be an uphill climb. He's up to that challenge, has the right mind-set and team to accomplish the impossible. This is a work in progress.

eda said...