Could Mark Kirk Hurt Down Ticket Republicans if He Runs in 2016

200px-Mark_Steven_Kirk,_official_photo_portrait_colorIn 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.

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.

Winners & Losers with Illinois Gay Marriage Passage

Every debate has a winner & a loser. One side prevails as another does not. This concept also applies to the gay marriage bill in front of the Illinois General Assembly.  Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business points out that lawmakers are just a few votes shy of passage of gay marriage in the Illinois House. Hinz puts the number between 55 -57 votes in favor, just short of the 60 needed. A few months ago, I was informed that the Illinois House was at least 12 votes short of passage – so the opposition in the Illinois House is starting to falter. So who will be a winner & who will be a loser if gay marriage passes the Illinois House & is eventually passed on to Gov. Quinn to sign?

Winner – Dan Rutherford – Rutherford, if you recall, was the lone Republican Illinois Senator to vote in favor of civil unions during the lame duck session of the General Assembly in 2010 before taking office as Illinois Treasurer. If gay marriage is approved, then Rutherford is provided some cover for his vote & any opposition he faces in the primary will have lost a campaign issue against Rutherford.

Loser – Bruce Rauner – As a social liberal, Rauner was counting on pulling in the moderate & liberal votes in the Republican Primary for Governor. If gay marriage passes, then that issue is largely off the table which allows any of Rauner’s opponents to focus on his other social liberal stances be it gun control or Rauner’s pro-choice beliefs – both important issues to Republican Primary voters who generally trend conservative.

Winner – Pat Brady – The Captain always goes down with the ship. Brady put his reputation on the line by openly advocating for gay marriage passage earning him the ire of conservatives, including myself. Brady’s support of gay marriage, which violates the Illinois Republican Party platform, has paved the way for his resignation sometime in the future but Brady will find comfort with the other social liberal Republicans in the Loop & Beltway circles. Even after Brady decides to resign, I’m not sure we have heard the last of him (see Andy McKenna).

Winner – Gov. Pat Quinn – As a very unpopular incumbent Governor, Pat Quinn needs all the “good” press he can get going into what seems to be a very difficult potential Democrat Primary. Quinn will be able to show his liberal colors & appease some, but definitely not all, his critics on social issues. Quinn’s victory lap will be short lived however as SB1 will once again pit Quinn against the unions he double –crossed after he was reelected.

Loser – Lisa Madigan – The current Illinois Attorney General, wannabe Democrat Governor candidate, will have lost a campaign issue just as Bruce Rauner will have lost one against his nearest opponent. Quinn will be able to say that he actually did something about gay marriage whereas Lisa Madigan merely sat on the sidelines cheering him on. She also loses a campaign issue in the General Election if Rutherford (assuming it’s basically a Rutherford/Rauner two way battle) wins the Republican Primary. But she still carries the Madigan last name…which is & always shall be a loser in my book.

Winner – Trial Lawyers – Once again, trial lawyers win. How? Because of all the discrimination lawsuits that will follow after passage of gay marriage in Illinois. Florists, wedding reception halls & other businesses have been sued by gay “couples” because those businesses refused to offer their services to them as we have seen in other states that passed gay marriage. It’s only a matter of time before a lawsuit against churches denying services to gay “couples” also happens, despite assurances by gay marriage supporters/sponsors in the General Assembly that houses of worship are exempt from the gay marriage law.

Loser – Illinois residents – Once again, the Democrats in the General Assembly have decided to focus on the real issues like medicinal marijuana & gay marriage versus handling the soft, unimportant issues like pension reform, budget deficits, faltering state credit ratings, high unemployment, anti-business regulations/policies & taxes. Priorities, priorities.

Loser – Conservatism in Illinois – Conservatives will have failed to pressure a handful of Republicans actually left in office in the Illinois House from breaking the ranks & joining the Democrats in voting for gay marriage. Conservatives were thwarted from getting the required votes to oust Pat Brady as Illinois Republican Party Chair – surprisingly with help from other conservatives either tacitly or openly. Even medicinal marijuana passed with barely a whimper. Not only does the Illinois Republican Party need to do some soul searching over this summer but conservatives must also do the same.

Winner – Senator Mark Kirk – Kirk has successfully thrown away any semblance of conservatism that he barely showed when he ran in 2010. Putting Mark Kirk’s recent anti-gun, pro-immigration reform posturing aside, Kirk has openly supported Pat Brady & passage of gay marriage in Illinois. Kirk has shown himself, as the highest office holding Republican in Illinois, to be a force within the Illinois Republican Party. Kirk will enjoy many of the same campaign benefits in 2016 that Rutherford will enjoy in 2014.

Push – State Sen. Jason Barrickman & other Republican pro-gay marriage votes – I’m calling it push for right now for Barrickman, et. al. Time will only tell if there will be backlash against the Republicans that vote or voted for gay marriage. Barrickman is already doing damage control & others will be watching closely for any fallout from his decision. Some Republicans that vote for gay marriage might even find themselves with primary challengers. 2014 is a long time way still but in the world of politics 2014 might as well be tomorrow.

Losers – Dillard, Brady & Co. – Running to the right of anyone in the Republican Primary for Governor to win conservatives will be that much harder. Gay marriage isn’t like the abortion issue where laws can be passed to rollback or restrict abortions. Once gay marriage is passed, the other candidates that might jump in can certain say they are opposed to gay marriage but any hopes of overturning it or restricting will be solely in the wheelhouse of the Illinois Supreme Court – which leans liberal. Anti-gay marriage will be a rallying cry, but it’ll be as effective as Bruce Rauner calling for Illinois to be Right to Work state.

Winner – The Slippery Slope – Pandora’s Box will be opened if you will. It is only a matter of time before polygamy is approved, which support for such action has already begun. It’s also only a matter of time before religious organizations lose their non-profit, tax-exempt status because they will be openly “discriminating” against gay “couples” by refusing to engage in marrying gay “couples”. In a state as broke financially as Illinois, removing the tax-exempt status would fill the Illinois coffers, not unlike how Henry VIII figured out when he broke from the Catholic Church & founded the Church of England.

The Illinois Petri Dish

Shortly after the Romney/Ryan defeat in November, Republicans & pundits started the public & private autopsy of what went wrong. The insider conclusion? Republicans aren’t liberal enough.

Then Karl Rove started his anti-conservative PAC to make sure conservatives don’t find their way onto the ballot, especially in high-profile races.

To complicate matters, the Supreme Court is debating whether the Defense of Marriage Act is Constitutional.

Adding fuel to that fire is Sen. Mark Kirk stating he supports gay marriage. This is the same Mark Kirk that has been campaigning behind the scenes to help keep Pat Brady’s job as IL Republican Party Chair.

Is the Republican party in the fits of an intraparty civil war? The quick answer is no. The long answer is below.

I don’t believe there is a civil war within the Republican Party…yet. It’s coming though. We are seeing the first signs of a rift within the party & I believe the first sign of this rift is the gay marriage issue.

The national Republican Party I believe wants to go a different direction than the rank & file Republicans, especially conservative Republicans. I believe that Illinois is the petri dish for the test case of a “new” Republican Party. The RNC will then use the results of their test case here in Illinois, learn from the mistakes, adjust & then import the program for liberalizing the Republican Party into the other states. What does mean for deep red states? It means the RNC will get to you eventually.

The evidence is right in front of us. Who sits is a committeeman on the RNC? Illinois Republican Chair Pat Brady – who has opening advocated for gay marriage.

We then filter down further & see the highest Republican elected official in Illinois – Mark Kirk – also support gay marriage. The case for liberalizing the Republican Party in Illinois gets bigger.

The final piece of the petri dish puzzle is our supposed “conservative” Illinois Republican Representatives in the US House – Shimkus, Davis, Schock & Kinzinger – staying absolutely silent on Pat Brady & now Mark Kirk. Where are these supposed champions of conservatism? Nowhere. When will they fight for the party as a whole? Probably never. So it’s up to us.

Conservatives in Illinois had better make their presence known & they had better be loud about it. Conservatives must confront their Republican office holders & press them on why they are not fighting against the liberalization of the Republican Party in Illinois, let alone nationally. Most importantly, conservatives had better make their voices heard by voting – especially in the primaries.

If conservatives don’t stand up and fight, then you will see a serious split in the Republican Party. I believe the state & national leaders of the Republican Party are playing with fire. In their eyes, they think they are appealing to more voters. In reality, they are alienating many within the Republican Party at the expense of political expediency.

What happens when Republican voters feel alienated? They don’t contribute to candidates or the party. They don’t show up to vote. They are more open to third parties.

When it’s all said & done, there is one thing you must keep in mind. Many of the pundits & consultants hail from the pre-Reagan Revolution days or the “compassionate conservatism” George W Bush days. To these insiders, Reagan represented a speed bump in the liberalization of the Republican Party. Why else are we to be reminded more & more these days that “Reagan is dead”? Why else would this Republican intelligentsia want to purge conservatives from policy making? If these same people think the Democratic Party has gone so far to the left & the “new” Republican Party will fill the void by disheartened Democratic Party voters, they are seriously mistaken.

It’s really is sad that we conservatives must waste so much time & energy fighting the liberal agenda within the Republican Party when that same effort could be used to defeat the far-left liberal agenda of the Democratic Party. We lose so many good conservatives because of this fight. They tire of the endless two-front battle. They tire of a seeming deaf leadership. They tire of living in a state that punishes success while rewarding failure. Who can blame them?

65% in Illinois Are Angry at Federal Government’s Policies

from Rasmussen Reports

Sixty-five percent (65%) of Likely Voters in Illinois are at least somewhat angry at the current policies of the federal government, according to a new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey.

That finding matches the level measured nationally, and includes 41% who are Very Angry at the government’s policies.

Just 32% of voters are not angry at the government’s policies.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Illinois voters believe that neither party’s political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today. Twenty-nine percent (29%) disagree with that assessment, while 17% are not sure.

While strong majorities of Republicans and voters not affiliated with either party are angry at the current policies of the government, over half of Democrats (54%) say they are not angry with the federal government.

The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Illinois was conducted on August 23, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty percent (60%) of all voters in the state believe most members of Congress don’t care what their constituents think. Twenty-one percent (21%) disagree and feel congressmen do care. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure.

An overwhelming majority of GOP voters feel most members of Congress neglect their constituents, while Democrats are more evenly divided.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk remain in a near-tie in Illinois’ race for the U.S. Senate.

Republican Bill Brady continues to hold a modest lead over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn in Illinois’ gubernatorial race.