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Mark Kirk Out. No Wait. He's In. Maybe.

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 11, 2009 7:20PM

This photo, from Mark Kirk's campaign website, doesn't have much to do with the premise of this post, but maybe if Andy McKenna realizes that Kirk has the puppy vote locked down, he'll think about backing off.

With the announcement that Roland Burris will not seek re-election and Lisa Madigan staying put in the AG's seat, Illinois's Junior Senatorial seat has become somewhat of a political hot potato. And amid the shuffling of names and personalities in potential statewide races that have been subject to speculation for months, the Washington Post reported, incorrectly, that Mark Kirk wouldn't run for the GOP slot in the general. In fact, Kirk has been in a bit of a political standoff with Illinois GOP chair Andy McKenna over who would run for an elected office in Illinois that could actually go to a Republican.

Kirk acknowledged to Hotline's Amy Walter that he was "still talking to Andy. We are trying to avoid a primary," adding that he "will run if Andy does not." Whether McKenna decides to fight Kirk for the nomination will influence how quickly Kirk throws his hat into the ring, if at all. With Roland Burris out of the way, and no strong Democrat (other than Alexi Giannoulias, who carries more than his share of scandal and intrigue) in the race, the State GOP has the opportunity to quickly line up against a single candidate and consolidate a base of voters that are ready to reject Democratic party politics as usual in Illinois. Now if only Mark Kirk and Andy McKenna can show some leadership and make a move, they might have a shot at winning a key Senate seat next fall.