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Mark Kirk Is Skipping Out On Debates In Chicago

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 30, 2016 4:59PM

Mark Kirk / Getty Images / Photo: Gabriella Demczuk

Incumbent Senator Mark Kirk is changing up plans to debate Rep. Tammy Duckworth, backing out of several high-profile conversations that candidates traditionally have with their opponents and Chicago media.

According to NBC5’s Ward Room, Kirk will only participate in three debates, nixing conversations with the Sun-Times Editorial Board, WTTW public debates, and one with ABC7, Univision and the League of Women Voters. The Senator will only participate in a downstate debate in Springfield, a Latino forum broadcast by WGN, and the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board.

Kirk’s decision to skip out on the other debates comes while he’s trailing in several polls. An Emerson College poll released on September 22 gave Duckworth a 2-point lead over Kirk, at 41 to 39 percent, and a mid-September Loras College poll put Duckworth at 5 points over Kirk, at 41 to 36 percent.

Forgoing the debates, all of which would take place in Chicago, could hurt Kirk even more. The Loras poll shows Duckworth holding a much larger lead with voters in the city, at 54 to 21 percent, according to NBC5.

The Duckworth campaign seized on the opportunity to criticize Kirk, calling the move “disappointing, but “not surprising.” “Mark Kirk doesn’t want to answer for the 10 lies he told about his military record in his last campaign, or the lies he’s telling about Tammy’s record in this campaign,” said campaign spokesperson Matt McGrath. “He certainly doesn’t want to answer for the 16 years he’s been in Washington siding with Wall Street banks and corporate special interests at the expense of Illinois families.”

The Kirk campaign did not immediately respond to request for comment.