Kirk Says He’s Still Mulling Senate Race

Posted July 10, 2009 at 3:18pm

Updated 7:52 p.m.Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is still considering running for Senate, despite a report Friday afternoon that said he was taking himself out of the race in order to avoid a primary with state Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna.Kirk told Roll Call over the phone Friday that he was still discussing the race with McKenna going into the weekend and that a published Washington Post report that he was dropping out of the race was incorrect.Kirk and McKenna met with the Illinois GOP delegation this week to gauge support for their campaigns. At the time, it was unclear whom the delegation would back — in part because of Kirk’s vote for the controversial cap-and-trade bill that passed the House recently.A source close to the delegation said that Members were taking the weekend to decide whom to support, with the exception of Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), who told a local newspaper Friday morning that she is behind Kirk.”The Illinois delegation is still thinking about it,” the source said. “I don’t think anyone has made a decision to remain neutral. I think everyone’s made a decision to take the weekend to decide.”What’s more, a reliable GOP source said Kirk was in fact making calls Friday morning telling people that he had decided not to run. Although Kirk told Roll Call that he and McKenna were going to continue talking over this weekend, the Congressman has made it clear to McKenna that he was not going to run if McKenna stayed in the race.“Andy has been preparing for this race for many weeks and Kirk has been all over the place on his decision making and that hasn’t been a factor on Andy,— said a McKenna supporter.McKenna has taken steps toward launching a campaign, visiting Washington, D.C., this week to meet with GOP leaders and talk to political consultants. McKenna’s candidacy was fueled in part by Kirk’s wavering on the race, and many Illinois donors were also irked by the Congressman’s vote on the cap-and-trade bill.