Sen. Mark Kirk calls Sen. Graham a ‘bro with no ho’

SHARE Sen. Mark Kirk calls Sen. Graham a ‘bro with no ho’

WASHINGTON — Does Sen. Mark Kirk have no filter?

The Illinois Republican gave a giant in-kind donationThursdayto his major 2016 Democratic rivals, an-all female line-up eager to take his seat. Kirk is one of the very top Democratic 2016 targets.

Sitting in front of an open microphone during a public Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, Kirk said this about Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the only bachelor in the 2016 presidential pack.

“I’ve been joking with Lindsey,” Kirk said. “Did you see that? He’s going to have a rotating first lady. He’s a bro with no ho.”

Kirk added, “That is what we’d say on the South Side,” a reference to a part of Chicago with a big African-American population.

RELATED CONTENT: Mary Mitchell: Kirk owes South Siders an apology for remark

Kirk was speaking during a committee roll call — when the microphones were on.

So there were no tricks here, no trackers, no secret recordings. Just a lot of Democrats, who have ears, in the committee room.

Ho, in case you are not familiar with the slang, is a diminutive reference to a prostitute.

Graham, who never married, earlier this week was asked by theDaily Mail who his first lady would be.

“Well, I’ve got a sister, she could play that role if necessary.I’ve got a lot of friends. We’ll have a rotating first lady,” Graham said.

Kirk picked up on Graham’s reply, using language that is insulting to women, perhaps unaware that his softly spoken aside was still an audible.

In no time, Sam Stein of  The Huffington Post  posted the audio with Kirk’s “bro with no ho,”crack. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raced to push it out.

Compounding the political problem triggered by the tasteless remark: All of Kirk’s major potential Democratic rivals are women. Former Chicago Urban League Chief Andrea Zopp is running, along with Rep. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., is mulling a bid.

Zopp told me, “He may think it’s ‘just a joke among the boys,’ but Mark Kirk’s remark about Lindsey Graham having ‘no ho’ is just one more reason why Illinois needs new leadership in the U.S. Senate.

“No woman, let alone a woman like me, an African-American and mother of two daughters, who has prosecuted rapists and wife abusers andwho has spent much of hercareer overcoming sexistand racist stereotypes would think his remark either appropriate or funny.Clueless or Reckless? Either way it’s time for a change — which is why I’m running to replace him,” Zopp said.

Kaitlin Fahey, who is Duckworth’s campaign manager said, “Illinois women already know Mark Kirk isn’t on their side by his votes against equal pay and affordable child care for working families. Now we also know he’s humor-challenged. Senator Kirk’s ‘joke’ is as offensive as it is unfunny, and he should apologize, personally and immediately.”

By early evening, Duckworth was using Kirk’s bro/ho comment in an e-mail fundraising appeal in which Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., wrote, “this kind of sexist language has no place in the U.S. Senate. Contribute to Tammy Duckworth’s campaign now to replace Mark Kirk with a senator who will champion women. “

Danielle Varallo, Kirk’s press secretary, asked for an explanation said in an email, “This was a joke between friends.” A few minutes later she added, “The senator apologizes to anyone offended by his remark.”

Graham said in a statement, “Sen. Kirk said he regrets the comments. I believe that is the appropriate response.”

This is the latest gaffe from Kirk, who suffered a massive stroke in 2012.

Last April, Democrats pounced on Kirk after he made a comment about African-Americans to the Peoria Journal Star interview that “we drive faster” through a black community.

After that, Kirk told me in an interview he learned his lesson.“I would say that whenever a targeted member talks about race or ethnicity, it is impossible for him to get it right. So I’ll leave it at that,” Kirk said.

In February, Kirk said thatRepublicans“should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office” if during a Department of Homeland Security shutdown there was a terror attack.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., summed it up in a Tweet:

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