So last night, in a race that wasn't particularly close, Congressman Mark Kirk soundly routed all his GOP primary opponents (including Tea Party favorite Patrick Hughes) in the bid for Barack Obama's old Senate seat. I know a lot of RedStaters were pulling for Hughes and/or have a lot of personal distate for Kirk. This post is to hopefully help everyone understand our gameplan for the Illinois Senate Seat now that Kirk is the nominee.
First, let me say that I can certainly emphathize with anyone who can't donate to or vote for Mark Kirk. To begin with, Kirk is pro-choice, and my own personal pro-life convictions prevent me from donating to or voting for any avowedly pro-choice candidates. Furthermore, it has long been RedState site policy to only endorse pro-life candidates, and that will not change in this race. Furthermore, Kirk has cast a number of other votes (most recently on cap-and-tax) that have infuriated conservatives of all stripes. I don't believe anyone here at RedState would begrudge our readers some honest objections to supporting Kirk.
There are a couple of points to be made about this race and how it turned out. First, Kirk's win was not the result of some nefarious party or NRSC conspiracy to suppress conservative candidates. Mark Kirk simply was the best representative for GOP primary voters in Illinois, in the considered opinion of those voters. You can't even blame his win on a failure of the anti-Kirk sentiment to coalesce around a single candidate; Kirk comfortably topped 50 per cent, which means that even if it were a heads-up race between Kirk and Hughes, Kirk would have won comfortably. For many years, Kirk has been successfully cultivating his political fortunes with Illinois voters (yes, even the Republican ones), and his win was deserved on the merits, and was accurately reflective of the Illinois GOP. This is NOT a case where the primary system was short-circuited or where the "establishment" spent a bunch of money to flood out an equally-viable conservative alternative. The primary voters in Illinois have spoken, and spoken loudly, and their choice should be respected.
Second, although Kirk can cast some pretty terrible votes, my impression of him is that he has a pretty good set of instincts and is far more loyal to the party than many current sitting GOP Senators. I think - although I am not sure - that a pretty significant part of his less-than-perfect voting pattern is due to electioneering. I believe that, at least 4 years out of 6, Mark Kirk will be a pretty good Senator. If not good, far better than many people are expecting, at least, especially for someone who will occupy a seat in Illinois. Giannoulias, on the other hand, is a crook, and a liberal one at that, and moreover is a close and longstanding ally of both Obama and Blagojevich. He will be a horrible, graft-grabbing Senator 6 years out of every 6 he is in office. Even though I can't personally support him, it's facially obvious to me that Kirk winning would be the clear best result in this race, and anyone who tries to tell you there's "no difference" between Kirk and Giannoulias needs a reality check.
Third, if you (like me) simply can't bring yourself to root for Kirk, or even to spend your energy kicking Giannoulias like the walking pinata that he is, spend your energy instead working to help someone you can support (like Rubio or Toomey) elected. The wailing and gnashing of teeth in this case is counterproductive and - since there was a legitimate primary - completely uncalled for. Here at RedState, we have work to do, and if you can't get rowing for Mark Kirk, we want to encourage you to get rowing for someone else, instead of rowing against a result that can't be changed at this point.
Thanks for your attention, and now back to your regularly scheduled programming.