As we reported late Sunday, recent polling by the Chicago Tribune of 600 likely Republican primary voters showed Mark Kirk with a huge lead over the other GOP primary contenders in the U.S. Senate race -- Kirk with 41% compared to 13% for all other candidates combined. No one, not even Patrick Hughes (who has claimed to be the only candidate that can beat Kirk) broke more than 3%.
With less than two months left, and no appreciable resources among the other candidates, compared to Kirk's millions in campaign funds, most other news sources, even Democratic ones, seem to agree that this is pretty much over... probably to their dismay, as I think most on the left would have relished the opportunity to run against a political unknown with polarized political views, rather than the much more moderate and experienced Kirk. Daily Kos lamented that Mark Kirk's lead is "nearly insurmountable" over Patrick Hughes "the supposed darling of the tea-party right," while the Swing State Project blog said:
For the GOP, the most notable number may be that Patrick Hughes, who's gotten all the buzz as the guy behind whom all the right-wingers are coalescing, is actually getting nowhere at all. Hughes is at 3, tied with virtually unknown Kathleen Thomas (a former school board member from Springfield).
WGN News had a story on the race yesterday. The sound quality on this clip isn't the best, and when I first heard it, I thought the announcer said "5'2" Congressman Mark Kirk is miles in front of the primary Republican pack." I thought, Mark's not a tall man, but surely he's not just 5'2". Of course, the announcer actually said "five term" Congressman Mark Kirk, but that made me do an initial double-take. ;-)
Meanwhile, Pat Hughes and Mark Kirk both appeared in front of the Tribune editorial Board yesterday. The article, by Rick Pearson of the Tribune, was not overly detailed, but you could tell that Pat, it seems, came across as a very angry man, who is fighting a battle based on what he perceives as party purity. Kirk, on the other hand, seeks to be the best representative for the people of Illinois, even if that means (heresy!) reaching out to independents and some reasonable Democrats (after all, there must be some).
"Are we going to be the party of the principles of Ronald Reagan, which is limited government, low taxes and our traditional social values and a strong national defense? Or are we going to be the party of Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe and the policies of Barack Obama?" Hughes said. Specter is a Pennsylvania Republican senator turned Democrat, and Snowe is a Republican senator from Maine who often votes with Democrats.
But Kirk maintained he would do a better job for the state by "building a coalition of Republicans, independents and some Democrats" concerned about debt, increasing taxes and regulation. Kirk said Republicans should want someone "who not just wins the primary ... (but) actually goes on and wins the general election" for the first time since Sen. Peter Fitzgerald in 1998.
Well, unfortunately here is another example of political inexperience at work. One way to definitely NOT get a favorable view from an editorial board (especially the Trib) is to come across as an angry party zealot who is more concerned with the doctrine of his political party than helping the citizens of Illinois. It's nice that Pat feels very passionately about his mission to help reform the Republican party into whatever he thinks it should be, but a newspaper board, much like the common citizen of Illinois, isn't going to give a rat's ass about how pure a party soldier you are. They want to know what you will DO to address issues like jobs, Iran, health care reform, nuclear weapons, etc., etc.
But if you want to talk about being a good Republican, I was thinking this morning about all of the work and support that Kirk has done over the years, which we have witnessed firsthand here in Lake County, in supporting other Republican candidates (yes, even very conservative ones like Dan Sugrue) and carrying the water for the elephant, as we like to say. As far as I know, Pat Hughes only recently discovered what he sees as an opportunity in politics, and did not spend the last 10 years knocking on doors, attending political rallies, fighting for just causes, and trying to make a positive difference for the people of the state. That would be Mark Kirk, my friends.