Sen. Mark Kirk is a moderate on social issues and a conservative on economic issues, which is just about the only winning formula for a Republican holding statewide office in Illinois.
Gov. Bruce Rauner more or less fits that description, as did the late Judy Baar Topinka, who was Illinois comptroller.
Kirk is generally well-positioned in the November general election, then, where he will need strong support from moderate Republicans and independents to hang on to the seat in Congress he won in 2010. But he still must trouble himself with the Republican primary, where he faces token — but hard-right — opposition.
Kirk is no danger of losing the primary. His opponent, Oswego businessman James T. Marter, is barely known outside Kendall County and minimally funded. The danger for Kirk is in being so muddied up as an unforgivable moderate that his party’s base fails to come out for him in November.
Kirk is cautious by nature. He hemmed and hawed for a week earlier this month before taking a stand in favor of Senate confirmation hearings for a President Obama nominee to the Supreme Court. But he took the right stand.
We also much admire the way the senator has fought back physically from a devastating stroke he suffered four years ago. The experience seems to have deepened him.
We’ll have much more to say about Kirk in the fall when we’re offering endorsements in the general election, but we can’t consider him for a formal endorsement in the primary because he declined to be interviewed, sitting alongside Marter, by the Editorial Board.
We also can’t endorse Marter. He has zero experience in elected office, and his politics are exactly what Washington does not need more of. He is a pro-gun 2nd-Amendment absolutist. He says, which is false, that there is no “specific, concrete evidence” that human activity has made “a significant impact” on climate change. He would eliminate the Department of Energy and Department of Education. And he excoriates Kirk for voting for any bill that included funding for Planned Parenthood.
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