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McKenna Defers to Kirk in Illinois

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna announced Monday that he will defer to Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and not seek the party’s Senate nomination next year.

“As party chairman my goal has been to build party unity,— McKenna said in a statement. “Mark Kirk and I met last evening as part of an ongoing discussion about the U.S. Senate race. I reassured Mark that if he chooses to be a candidate, I will not oppose him.—

Kirk has yet to officially announce his candidacy but told supporters and fellow Republicans last week that he was running for the open seat previously held by President Barack Obama.

When McKenna made it clear last week that he was not going to get out of the race, Kirk wavered about his decision — telling supporters that he would not run if McKenna was in the race. Kirk told Roll Call on Friday that he was still running and would discuss the matter with McKenna over the weekend.

McKenna, meanwhile, appeared to be charging full steam ahead with his Senate campaign last week. He met with Republican leaders in Washington, D.C., about the race and had even gone as far as to meet with consulting firms about his candidacy.