I didn't go to Mark Kirk's townhall myself yesterday, but from what I could see on the evening news, and what I've assembled in the print media reports, it seemed that our Congressman pulled off quite a media coup in the middle of a tough situation.
While many of our national representatives, such as Senator Dick Durbin, are running from health care town halls at the speed of light due to the controversy and contention that some of them have generated, Kirk chose to embrace the format as an opportunity to connect with voters in the district. In contrast, if you're a constituent of Melissa Bean or Bill Foster, you need to host your own town hall outside your congressman's office, since they seem to be in hiding.
Of course, we suspect Kirk ended up connecting with many voters outside the district as well, given that MoveOn.org attempted to take over the meeting by recruiting attendees to come, not to listen to Kirk with an open mind, but to lobby for their brand of health care reform. Here's the e-mail, which was passed along to me by Antoinetta "Ant" Simonian at the Lake County Republican Federation:
TAKE NOTICE - MoveOn.org has issued a Call To Action to its members to attend the Kirk Town Hall Meeting.
Dear MoveOn member, I'm a MoveOn member like you, and I'm working with the local MoveOn Council to organize an event tomorrow in Arlington Heights to make our voices heard for real health care reform. The event is on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, at 3:00 PM in Arlington Heights. The location of our event is: Arlington Heights Village Hall.Here's the event description: Rep. Mark Kirk from IL 10th Cong. District is running for the U.S. Senate. He is having a town hall on Mon. Aug. 24 at 3 pm at the Arlington Heights Village Hall. Let's make sure Rep. Kirk knows that Illinois residents support a PUBLIC OPTION. Please arrive early and bring signs supporting the public option. I hope you can join me and other local MoveOn members. Thanks for all you do. - Amy K., MoveOn member
So, I watched the evening news with interest, and from what I could see of the news coverage, the town hall was not only mostly orderly, it was a runaway success, and Kirk's staff ended up extending the meeting so more people could enter and have their say.
Here's the kind of story that was being told at the meeting, the likes of which haven't really been heard too much in the mainstream media:
Linda Camodeca has been battling lung cancer for six years now. Doctors have given her only a 12 percent survival rate, but that doesn't scare her nearly as much as what she's hearing about health care reform.
"I am 67 years old, and if we go to universal health care, I wouldn't be here today," Camodeca said. She says the reason is simple.
"I'm afraid that they would consider me too old to do all they've done for me and save my life," Camodeca said.
Here's a roundup of some of the great news coverage for Kirk. Sun-Times, Tribune, Pioneer Press, Daily Herald, ABC-7 video. Tribune columnist Dennis Byrne also writes about Kirk's compromise health care reform proposal here.
I'd say all of this gives Kirk quite a boost for his already impressive position for his U.S. Senate race, as well.
SPEAKING OF U.S. SENATE: Political newcomer Pat Hughes, my law school chum, didn't have much of a honeymoon after his announcement last week that he intended to run for U.S. Senate as a conservative alternative to Mark Kirk. Serial litigant and fellow Senate candidate Andy Martin has already trained his gun sights on poor Pat, claiming that Hughes is no longer registered as an active attorney with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) and therefore falsely is representing himself on the campaign trail (and his development firm's website) as an attorney; Martin, who is no stranger to using court action as a campaign tool, said yesterday that he intended to file a complaint with the ARDC against Hughes. They're also duking this out over at conservative blog Illinois Review. Welcome to the cesspool, Pat.
MEANWHILE: In other 10th District news, as we first broke the story here last week (getting some national attention in the process), State Rep. Beth Coulson formally announced her candidacy for the 10th Congressional District. Sadly, I could not make that event either (work, work, work). Video here.
TA also heard that other candidates are continuing to make rounds as well, including attorney Bill Cadigan and businessman Bob Dold, who both showed up to the Libertyville Township Republican meeting last night. We'll have a profile on Dold here soon. Also at the meeting was Green Oaks resident Mohan Manian, who is officially throwing in for Kathy Ryg's 59th District race as a Republican, which means that current front-runner attorney Dan Sugrue has a little local competition for the GOP nomination.