The Chicago Tribune has released a poll showing fifth term Congressman Mark Kirk of the 10th District with a commanding lead over all other GOP candidates in the race for U.S. Senate. The new poll, which was taken between Dec. 2 through Dec. 8 of 600 likely Republican primary voters, shows Kirk with 41%, with his nearest challengers, Kathleen Thomas of Springfield and Patrick Hughes of Hinsdale, both at only 3%. Bringing up the rear are John Arrington and Andy Martin, each with 2%, and Donald Lowry and Robert Zadek, each with 1%, with 1% voting for 'someone else.' 46% are undecided.
The Trib poll also shows State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias with a good lead (31%) over his nearest opponents, Cheryle Jackson (17%) and David Hoffman (9%), but that race is considerably tighter than the GOP primary.
Interestingly, my law school chum Pat Hughes has been campaigning as the only candidate that can beat Kirk in the primary, but these results don't seem to back up that contention--either in terms of making this a race, or even standing out from the pack of also-rans. Kathleen Thomas, an unknown school board member from Springfield, appears to be doing at least as well. But both are in the basement compared to Kirk.
Pat put a lot of effort into wooing the endorsement of Senator Jim DeMint of the Senate Conservatives Fund but, thus far, DeMint has not endorsed. An article in the American Spectator suggested that DeMint had given up on Hughes, but DeMint's camp stated that he is still "monitoring" the race and hasn't yet decided whether to bet on Hughes. Well, given these poll results, that bet just became a bit more of a long-shot.
Even if a DeMint endorsement eventually came through for Hughes, Kirk has had the support of many other conservative Republican leaders for some time (Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority leader, who is as conservative as DeMint, comes to mind), and most commentators seem to agree that Kirk's lead is safe. Pat has been covering the state trying to garner grassroots endorsements, but also seems to be being beaten handily in the ground war as well (at the last count, Kirk had 15 township endorsements, Pat had 4).
DeMint says "We believe it is too early to count Hughes out." Um, well, with less than 60 days to go before the primary, and with the holidays mixed in, there's very little time for "monitoring" of this race before throwing in or not; it's been full speed ahead for some time now, and if the numbers haven't moved out of the cellar for Kirk's opponents (Hughes or anyone else), it's not likely they will--certainly not in time to make any difference.