First-term Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois broke with his party in order to meet with President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Justice Merrick Garland. For his effort at appearing to do his job, Kirk was rewarded by President Obama with a very gracious note.
A very clever Kirk tweeted a thank you to the President along with the note Thursday morning, hyping his responsibility to his constituents as being more important than partisanship, “Thanks @POTUS. I met w/ Judge Garland because my responsibility to people of #IL is more important than partisanship”:
This is a politically clever Republican, a rare sight in D.C. these days, so take note. In 2010, Kirk swept in with the Tea Party madness and took Obama’s Illinois Senate seat with less than a 2 point margin in a non presidential election year. He has long been rated one of the most vulnerable 2016 candidates.
Republicans already faced an uphill battle with the map in 2016 as the defending party in 24 out of 34 races, 7 of which are in states President Obama carried in 2012. And that was before Donald Trump and Ted Cruz dominated their party primary.
Kirk is seen as too moderate for ultra conservatives in Illinois, and supporters of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) are not fans.
It is likely that Kirk will be facing two-term Representative and Democratic favorite Tammy Duckworth, who was endorsed by both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday. Yes, Wednesday, as in yesterday, as in the very next day Kirk is tweeting out a thank you from President Obama, a very popular figure in his home state of Illinois.
Duckworth has a plus 6 margin against Kirk according to Real Clear Politics.
It was Duckworth who pressed Kirk when the Senator refused to respond to questions asking if he was going to follow his party’s obstruction.
The Chicago Tribune reported on February 15th:
“Sen. Mark Kirk must immediately level with the people of Illinois and let us know whether he supports the Constitution, or if he’ll be a rubber stamp for (Senate Republican leader) Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist and unconstitutional gambit,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth said taking the congressional oath of office “does not cease to apply in an election year, nor does it cease to exist for the benefit of a political party that lost the last presidential election and wishes to impose a procedural do-over.”
So now we have the answer. Senator Kirk wants to save his seat and he wants it so much he is willing to even show a modicum of respect for the President by not refusing to do part 1 of the most basic part of his job as a Senator — meeting with the SCOTUS nominee.
This is how the Republican strategy of obstruction against President Obama makes them so much more vulnerable in a year in which they are fighting in 7 states Obama carried in 2012. It is truly difficult to imagine a more ignorant strategy than the one Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced within hours of Justice Scalia’s death. It has fired up Democrats and placed vulnerable Republicans in even more peril.
It turns out, sucking up to President Obama by doing their job is a much smarter strategy. What a sick burn.
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