News (USA)

Republican Mark Kirk moves left in attempt to keep Senate seat

Duckworth’s campaign also says Kirk talks a lot about his more moderate positions when he’s in the Chicago area, but not when he heads to more Republican parts of Illinois, and that she has been consistent in her beliefs.

A TV ad that mentioned Kirk was one of the only Republicans to call for hearings on President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court aired only in the Chicago area. Kirk supported Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump for months before reversing course in June amid fierce criticism from Democrats.

Asked this week about Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s pick for vice president and a social conservative who last year signed legislation critics said could have let businesses in the state refuse to serve gays, Kirk said “I love Mike.”

Former Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady said it’s possible for Kirk’s motives to be both sincere and politically expedient.

“I think that’s truly where he is,” Brady said. “That is certainly beneficial in a state like Illinois, where that approach or that political viewpoint allows you to win because that’s where the state is — particularly suburban women who are probably the most important voting bloc.”

It remains to be seen whether it will be enough for Kirk to keep his seat; his campaign’s own poll released earlier this year showed him three points behind Duckworth.

Voter Delphine Cherry said Kirk’s bold stance on gun measures secured her support. The 58-year-old from the Chicago suburb of Hazel Crest has lost two children to gun violence. She typically votes for Democrats but has backed the occasional Republican when there’s a compelling reason.

“I feel like Sen. Kirk has stood out from the rest. He’s in the fight with us,” said Cherry, pointing to Kirk’s votes in favor of a Democratic legislation to expand background checks and allow the government to deny gun sales to suspected terrorists. The votes followed an attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 people dead and was the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Duckworth is expected to have a speaking role when the Democrats gather for their convention later this month.

Kirk, meanwhile, has seemed to go to some lengths to avoid being seen rubbing shoulders with top Republicans, being a last-minute no-show for party festivities at last summer’s Illinois State Fair and this year’s state party convention.

He won’t attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, telling a Chicago radio host that “I’ve got to really do my hair that week.”

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