5th Term Cong. Mark Steven Kirk (R- Highland Park) is currently in the lead to become the next U. S. Senator from Illinois, replacing Democrat Roland Burris, who replaced Democrat Barack Obama, who replaced Republican Peter Fitzgerald when he decided not to seek re-election in 2004. The Real Clear Politics average of polling data has Kirk up by five points over his Democratic opponent, State Treasurer Alexi Guiannoulias.
Giannoulias, Broadway Bank and the Treasurer's office
Kirk's lead results in good part from the pounding Giannoulias has taken from the media, his Democratic Primary opponent David Hoffman and Kirk over the reported mismanagement and reckless lending behavior by Giannoulias and other family members, leading to the failure of their family bank, Broadway Bank. Giannoulias has also had to deal with reports by the media, his Democratic Primary opponent David Hoffman and Cong. Mark Kirk of improper oversight by the State Treasurer's office of third party asset management services. Those assets were invested in by parents to provide for sufficient sums of money to pay for their children's education.
Cong. Mark Kirk at the City Club of Chicago
Yesterday, Cong. Kirk spoke at a City Club of Chicago luncheon to a packed audience of about 250 people. He outlined many themes and policy issues for his campaign; including a few that this journalist thinks will be central to his campaign.
Likely central themes for the Kirk Senate Campaign
One, Kirk demonstrated his bi-partisan nature. When he speaks of respected Illinois Senators, he identifies Republicans Dirksen and Percy, along with Democrats Simon and Obama. When he refers to disgraced Illinois Governors, he mentions Democrats Kerner and Walker, Republican George Ryan (now in Prison) and Democrat Blagojevich (set to go to trial next month). Kirk spoke of working with Democrat IL. Cong. Dan Lipinski (Western Springs, 3rd Dist.) to ban sewage dumping in Lake Michigan.
Two, Cong. Kirk wants to restore trust in Government. Naval Reserve Officer Kirk identified Congress as having an approval rating of 17%, the Obama Administration at 40%, but the U. S. Military is at 80 %. Cong. Kirk emphasized that "Northern Illinois, if it were a state, would be the 9th most corrupt state in America." [Ed. Note: however, this apparently is based on public corruption conviction data that is not adjusted to per capita levels].
Three, Kirk often takes what he will endeavor to project as a middle ground approach, especially on some social issues, now that he is running state-wide. He characterizes himself as pro-choice on abortion and promoting "stem cell research enhancement legislation." He didn't say but I take this to mean "embryonic stem cell research." On the other hand, Kirk voted for the [pro-Life] Stupack Amendment to the Obama healthcare bill. He defended that vote in response to an audience question by saying although he supports a woman's right to choose, he does not support federal funding for abortion.
Four, Cong. Kirk emphasizes the importance of government helping, not hindering, private sector job creation, noting the importance of small business for job creation. Kirk also supports O'Hare Airport modernization, which he said, "By its most conservative estimate would add 700,000 new jobs to our area." Kirk emphasized Illinois' natural advantage would take over again, building high income, "If we get rid of...high taxes, extremely high litigation and corruption [costs]."
Five, Cong. Kirk emphasizes the importance of controlling government spending, both for the United States and for various European Union countries that are now [Greece] and perhaps will be [Spain] getting bailed out. He also views himself as a tax cutter, but he seems to place more emphasis on controlling spending that cutting taxes. On spending, taxes and limiting the size of government, he views himself as sharing the views, in large part, of Tea Party members.
Kirk's answers to certain audience questions:
Kirk declined to give his opinion on Supreme Court nominee Kagan before he reads her writings and watches closely her confirmation hearing. The Congressman said judges should interpret the law, not make it.
Afghanistan and Israel
Kirk said, "[Afghanistan] is the right mission. [Afghanistan] is the right place. Freedom, tolerance, diversity, democracy are absolutely worth this..." Kirk said he was concerned that "there is a growing distance between the United States and our best ally in the middle east, the state of Israel. Middle east peace is founded on Israeli strength, not Israeli weakness."
Kirk's answers to certain media questions.
Kirk said that there will be Mark Kirk voters in the crowd that goes to see Sara Palin tomorrow in Rosemont, but he won't be there because he will be voting in Washington, DC. Kirk was told by a member of the media "the Tea Party members all love Sarah Palin and they want to know if you do or you don't. Kirk said "she is not a voter in Illinois, but we seek to add support from wherever we can."
Don't ask, Don' tell
Cong. Kirk said he supported the current policy in the military of "Don't ask, Don't tell, He doesn't think we should make a change because he feels we should keep [any sort of pressure like that] out of the workplace, especially in combat environments where we have unique authority by individuals over young men and women.
War on Terror; Islamic Radicalism
Kirk was asked about those who criticize the Obama administration for its reluctance to talk about a War on Terrorism and Islamic Radicalism, and whether that reluctance has perhaps been a cause of not discovering beforehand what was going on with the Christmas day bomber, the Ft. Hood shooter and now the Times Square attempt to set off explosives. In response, Kirk said "We need to protect the American people relying on more than luck... we have taken out a number of key Taliban leaders in the last ninety days. I think especially the Pakistan Taliban is beginning to think of ways to appear relevant by striking the United States. That means we should have an added level of security and we should call it the way we see it. These are terrorists who should be captured or killed by the United States and we should use very clear language.