In 2010 Mark Kirk won in the highly contested U.S. Senate race against Alexi Giannoulias (D). However, his win didn’t translate to many other GOP victories in the state. The Republican nominees for governor Bill Brady and Lt Governor Jason Plummer both lost in a extremely tight race. Mark Kirk received much of his support from Independents and Blue-Dog Democrats, and because of that very few down ticket Republicans benefited from him being on the ticket. The status of the Republican Party in Illinois is still very weak even after the Bruce Rauner win in 2014. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has already announced a run against Senator Kirk. Duckworth will be one of, if not the top, candidates that the Democrats will put out in the entire nation. Senator Kirk continues to have health issues after his heartbreaking and debilitating stroke. Senator Mark Kirk appears to be the most endangered Republican Incumbent Senator in 2016. Duckworth will no doubt have a lot of money to spend and she already has a big backing nationally.
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The Republicans need to have a candidate that rallies the base. If the base gets excited and turns out, that could help the Republicans in the Illinois House pick up the one seat they need to breaking the super majority in Springfield. Breaking the super majority in Springfield would give Governor Rauner more flexibility in Springfield. One might ask what Republicans in Illinois excite the base? Some of the following come to mind: former Congresssman Bobby Schilling from the 17th District, former Lt Governor nominee Jason Plummer, and Congressman Adam Kinzinger from the 16th District. In Kinzinger’s case, despite having strained ties with many conservative groups, such a run could help mend the fences if he is the nominee and goes against Duckworth.
The consensus among many Republicans both in Illinois and in DC is that Senator Mark Kirk does not have the capability to run an active and energetic campaign against a solid campaigner like Duckworth who can rake in big campaign bucks and a state that has typically been blue for a number of years. With 2016 being a Presidential year and many democrats being very excited about Tammy Duckworth being the likely nominee the odds of the Republicans losing in a landslide in Illinois is heightened. The Republicans could lose seats in both the Illinois House and Senate where the Democrats already have the super majority. Without a strong Senate candidate Republicans could also lose in the 10th district where a rematch has already been set up against Robert Dold and Brad Schneider.
Senator Kirk has served with honor in the military and has had a successful political career running for Congress and for US Senate as a Republican in the home state of President Obama. If Senator Mark Kirk wishes for his seat to remain in Republican hands, it is best he step aside and allow a Schilling, Plummer or Kinzinger to step up and run an active and energetic campaign to defeat the Democrat Machine’s Tammy Duckworth.