I recently penned an article on the potential risks of the #NoHearingsNoVotes stance by the GOP and what it might cost the party, particularly in terms of tight Senate races this fall. (A cost which is well worth paying, by the way.) One of the office holders I mentioned was embattled Illinois Senator Mark Kirk who is looking at a particularly tough race in the opinion of most analysts. At the time, Kirk had made some comments on both sides of the issue, but looked like he would be holding the line with the party leadership. As of the release of his new op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, however, it looks like the pressure has gotten to him. (Yahoo News)
Republican Senator Mark Kirk, facing a tough re-election fight in Illinois, said on Monday the Senate should vote on whomever President Barack Obama nominates to the U.S. Supreme Court, breaking with his party’s leadership…
Kirk wrote in an opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times that he recognizes the right of any president to choose a Supreme Court nominee and he looks forward to Obama picking one for the Senate to consider for confirmation.
“I also recognize my duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information,” Kirk added.
He’s not just going along with a confirmation process, but he’s looking forward to the President nominating someone? I suppose we know his position now.
There are more than a few Republicans who see this as a serious poison pill no matter which way things play out. Former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg weighed in on it for an article in The Hill by Alexander Bolton and said he was afraid there was trouble coming down the pike for some others in Kirk’s position.
“I think they’re very concerned if they’re up for reelection.”
“I imagine Mitch McConnell is more than concerned because clearly Trump at this time is not going to carry swing states,” Gregg added.
“I’m thinking of New Hampshire, for example.”
I can’t imagine how this help’s Kirk’s situation to any extent. He’s obviously not going to win over any Democrats or progressive leaning moderates by simply taking the same position as Tammy Duckworth. (His likely opponent) And all he’ll do on the home front is drive away some of his own base. Hugh Hewitt quickly pronounced his doom as soon as the news broke.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) February 22, 2016
Backlash is already building, as I noted from one Tweet shot out by Kurt Schlichter.
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) February 23, 2016
Yep. James T. Marter is running in the primary for Kirk’s Senate seat. If you haven’t heard of him, that’s not much of a surprise since the media has pretty much entirely ignored the campaign. And even with this SCOTUS nomination debacle playing out, you may not hear much more. Illinois is holding their Senate primary on the same day as the presidential primary and it’s only a few weeks away on March 15th. That’s not very much time to get a groundswell going and he’ll be competing with the deafening noise of the POTUS race for media space every day from now until then.
But even if Kirk steamrolls through the primary, he’s going to face some tough sledding in November. Losing even a small portion of the base in a state like Illinois can spell serious trouble.