Senate Watch: Illinois Republican Mark Kirk Dealing with Powerful Re-Election Problem
Republican Senator Mark Kirk’s political vulnerability as he seeks re-election in 2016 boils all the way down to this: he’s a Republican in a Democratic state.
His occasion affiliation proved much less burdensome in 2010, halfway into Barack Obama’s first time period within the White Home. That yr, in among the best nationwide political environments for Republicans since World Struggle II, Kirk scored a 2-point victory, capturing the seat the president had as soon as held.
Kirk faces a more durable climb within the coming yr, when Democrats are hoping to win again management of the Senate. The Illinois voters will likely be greater and extra numerous in a presidential election yr than it was throughout the mid-term election. And whereas the 2016 Democratic presidential standard-bearer in all probability received’t strategy Obama’s enormous home-state margins in 2008 and 2012, Illinois favored the Democratic nominee by 10 factors in 2000 and 12 factors in 2004.
Republicans at present maintain a 54-46 majority within the U.S. Senate, and they’re the defending occasion in 24 of the 34 races, together with seven in states Obama carried within the 2012 election. Kirk’s seat is likely one of the best, in keeping with nonpartisan political analysts.
The senator must persuade lots of of 1000’s of Illinois voters to again him after voting first for the Democratic presidential nominee on the prime of the ticket. A Republican final received an Illinois Senate election in a presidential election yr greater than 4 many years in the past, in 1972, when incumbent Charles Percy received re-election.
Kirk’s bipartisan enchantment is tied to his sustaining a voting report that retains the nationwide Republican Get together at a long way. Within the 114th Congress, he’s sided along with his occasion 72 p.c of the time on votes that divided the 2 events. Within the polarized Senate, the place so many votes fall alongside party-lines, that’s the third-lowest measure of occasion unity amongst Republican senators, in keeping with Bloomberg information.
He was the one Republican who voted final week to thwart Senate laws that might have barred federal funding for Deliberate Parenthood. The invoice, S. 1881, failed to succeed in the 60-vote threshold wanted to advance.
He sided with the Obama administration, and opposed teams aligned with Tea Get together activists, in pushing for a reauthorization of the Export-Import Financial institution, which offers loans and ensures to assist abroad gross sales by U.S. corporations. Boeing Co., a significant beneficiary of the financial institution’s packages, has its headquarters in Chicago. In March 2013, Kirk turned the second Republican senator to assist same-sex marriage.
The main Democratic candidate is two-term Consultant Tammy Duckworth, who represents suburbs of Chicago west and northwest of that metropolis. She faces a problem within the main subsequent March from Andrea Zopp, who led the Chicago City League.
Duckworth’s donors embrace the highest three Democrats within the Senate; Minority Chief Harry Reid of Nevada, Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, and third-ranking Chuck Schumer of New York, whom Reid has endorsed as his successor as chief when he retires on the finish of 2016.
She votes extra ceaselessly with Democratic leaders than Kirk does with Republicans, although Duckworth, an Military veteran, has strayed from the occasion line at occasions on army and international insurance policies.
In July 2015, she was amongst 16 Democrats who voted for a Veterans Affairs accountability invoice, H.R. 1994, that the Obama administration threatened to veto. Earlier within the yr, she voted for the Republicans’ protection spending invoice, H.R. 2685, and a reauthorization of intelligence packages, H.R. 2596.
Duckworth sided with Democratic-leaning labor unions, and opposed Obama and Kirk in voting towards commerce promotion authority.
A race between Kirk and Duckworth could be notable for a way each candidates have overcome bodily infirmities to serve in demanding jobs. Duckworth has used a wheelchair since 2004, when she misplaced her legs after the Military helicopter she was piloting over Iraq was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Kirk suffered an ischemic stroke in 2012 that saved him out of the Senate for nearly a yr.
“I was determined to return to the Senate to do the job you elected me to,” Kirk mentioned in a Might 2015 marketing campaign business that confirmed him throughout his rehabilitation and climbing the U.S. Capitol steps.
The nonpartisan Cook dinner Political Report charges the Illinois U.S. Senate race as a tossup, whereas the Middle for Politics on the College of Virginia says the competition “leans” to the Democrats. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report charges the Illinois contest as “Toss-Up/Tilt Democrat.”