By Mark Wachtler
November 4, 2015. Addison, IL. (ONN) The Republican National Committee and the Illinois GOP have a problem on their hands. Should the Party oligarchs continue their support of incumbent US Senator Mark Kirk or quickly plot his demise and switch their support to a challenger. So far, the only Republican in the entire state of Illinois willing to challenge Kirk and with a chance to win in November is former US Rep Joe Walsh. The firebrand Tea Partier wants to run, but time is running out to file his candidacy.
Former US Rep Joe Walsh.
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US Senator Mark Kirk
Illinois is controlled by the Democratic Party as evidenced by the Democrats’ super majority in the state legislature. However, Illinois is slowly turning red with the election of a GOP Governor last year on top of the state’s popular Republican US Senator Mark Kirk. But Kirk suffered from a crippling stroke in 2012 which has many impartial voters wondering if he’s up to the task of another six years in office.
The Republican Kirk was elected in the blue state by mixing a progressive social agenda with conservative fiscal and foreign policy platforms. The national Party treasures its seat from Illinois and doesn’t intend to lose it. But with their incumbent nearly unable to perform the duties of office, will they prop him up and support him anyway? One well-known and controversial Republican hopes not. That’s former US Rep. Joe Walsh.
Walsh wants to challenge Kirk
Joe Walsh defeated a Democrat incumbent to become a one-term US Congressman from Illinois in 2010. The Democrat-controlled state legislature then re-mapped him into another Republican Congressman’s district, forcing Walsh to run in a new district against VA appointee and war-amputee Tammy Duckworth. The Tea Partier had lost much of his support during a very public child support fight and his outspoken defense of Wall Street banks during the peak of the economic collapse.
Since then, Joe Walsh has taken his conservative positions to WIND-AM radio where he hosts his own show. Remaining in the public eye, the former Congressman has made no secret that he would like to challenge Sen. Mark Kirk in the Republican Primary in 2016. The only thing it appears he’s waiting for is enough support from Party donors.
Itching to run
All the way back in February, TheHill.com reported that Joe Walsh was interested in giving Sen. Kirk a Primary Election challenge for the Republican nomination. The publication quoted Walsh explaining, “I think because of his overall physical condition, I don't know anyone else would consider challenging him and that's just plain wrong. If you privately talk to people who would ordinarily primary him, they'd all say he's got no business running, but I can't challenge him. Look at who he is. People are going to say I'm mean spirited because I'm challenging him. Because of sympathy for Mark Kirk, I don't know of a serious candidate who would challenge him besides me.”
The following month, Roll Call reported that Mark Kirk’s re-election was considered a toss-up by analysts. The publication’s own political expert even called Kirk “the underdog” in his re-election bid in 2016 to an as-yet un-nominated Democrat opponent. Joe Walsh was again cited as the only possible challenger to the incumbent Kirk.
Flash forward to this week when the Illinois Review reported that Walsh was still seriously considering a challenge to Kirk in the GOP Primary. After speaking to the former Congressman, the publication wrote, ‘Walsh has very little time to make his move. The filing deadline for the primary is in early December. He is now amassing pledges of support that he hopes will turn into actual cash if he announces.’
They also quoted him saying that if he runs, he will make immigration his number one issue. “There is no more important domestic issue,” he reportedly said. The authors then point out that one of Senator Kirk’s biggest weaknesses with the Republican base is his support for sanctuary cities like Chicago and illegal immigration in general. The outlet wrote, ‘Walsh believes Republican voters have become disgusted enough with the levels of immigration and the government’s apparent inability to control the border for him to win a primary focused on that theme.’
In addition to Rep. Tammy Duckworth and the Chicago Urban League’s Andrea Zopp on the Democrat side, there are already a couple other announced candidates for Illinois’ US Senate seat. One is Republican business owner James Marter. And the other is the Libertarian Party’s Chris Michel.
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