Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna said Monday that he will not seek his state’s open Senate seat next year if Rep. Mark Kirk (R) does, clearing the way for Kirk to have a smooth primary.
Just three days after Kirk was telling colleagues that he had decided not to run because of the primary opposition, McKenna released a short statement saying he and Kirk have reached an accord.
“As party chairman my goal has been to build Party unity,” McKenna said. “Mark Kirk and I met last evening as part of an ongoing discussion about the U. S. Senate race. I reassured Mark that if he chooses to be a candidate, I will not oppose him.”
Kirk has been weighing the race for months, and soon after state Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) said last week that she wouldn’t run for the seat, he put out the word that he would run. But it soon became clear that McKenna, who had been eyeing the race himself while Kirk deliberated, was set on running himself.
That led Kirk to spread the word that he would back off his intention to run. Discussions over the weekend have apparently averted further conflict.
The announcement concludes five days' worth of high drama in the Senate race, which is set to be one of the biggest and most expensive in the country. Kirk’s candidacy is the GOP’s top hope for winning the former Senate seat of President Obama, and it puts a blue state in play for Republicans.
State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) is running on the Democratic side, and businessman Chris Kennedy (D) could also jump in the race. But there is plenty of unrest over which direction the Democratic primary is headed, making Kirk’s clear primary an advantage at this point.
Appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D), like Madigan, announced last week that he will not run for the seat. He polled poorly in the primary and didn’t figure to have much of an impact on the race anyway.
Ugh, Mckenna was potentially the only good Conservative that could put up a good fight against Faux Republican Mark Kirk. Maybe Congressman Peter Roskam or Diplomat Alan Keyes could run for us.