Mark Kirk Slammed By Giannoulias, Democrats After Entering Senate Race

08/20/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk announced his candidacy for President Obama's former Senate seat Monday and Democrats wasted little time challenging the man considered the best-- and perhaps only-- Republican capable of winning the seat in 2010.

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a Democratic candidate, sought to tie Kirk to the "Bush-Cheney" past while casting himself as the Obama-era future in a statement issued hours before Kirk formally announced.

Giannoulias' statement:

"If Mark Kirk and I are the respective nominees of our parties, then voters will have a clear choice: go backwards to the reckless Bush-Cheney fiscal policies Kirk supported that cost this state hundreds of thousands of jobs and created the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, or move forward to fundamentally change our economy and create the next generation of good jobs here in Illinois.

"I believe in fair trade, an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, and tax cuts for middle-class families. Mark Kirk takes the opposite view. He voted to give tax breaks to corporations that ship our jobs overseas, but against cracking down on China's unfair trade practices. He voted for a massive bailout of the biggest banks in the country, but against raising the minimum wage. Mark Kirk voted against middle-class tax cuts by opposing President Obama's economic recovery plan, but supported George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest. It's a simple choice between the failed past or a promising future - a clear choice between the right course and the wrong one."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tried to dent Kirk's reputation as a moderate Republican in a web ad released Monday:

Kirk is also taking heat from members of his own party, though their gripes will likely do little to bolster the DSCC's claim that Kirk is no moderate.

Kirk was one of eight Republicans who voted for the Democratic-sponsored climate change legislation. The move spurred a backlash among national Republicans-- "Wanted" posters were circulated online targeting Kirk and the other GOP votes-- and on Sunday Kirk was called to task by a local Republican group.

At an "accountability session" with Wheeling Township Republicans, Kirk was forced to explain his vote to a hostile crowd, former State Rep. Penny Pullen wrote on the conservative site Illinois Review:

Most of the comments and questions were respectful, but disappointment, sense of betrayal and outright anger was apparent. Though the Congressman cited his many calls to c.e.o.'s as experts, he found in Sunday's audience a surprising number of bona fide experts among his own citizen-constituents -- including two physicists who discounted human contribution to "global warming" (on the 65-degree July day!) and a local village trustee who owns a trucking firm and reminded the Congressman of the economic pressure the Cap & Trade measure would put on those in his industry and the horror with which they greeted his vote. Others had researched his voting record and refuted some of his claims pertaining to his positions on related issues. A high/low point came when a citizen rose, told him he'd always been "her man" and then informed him she would do everything she could to defeat his next candidacy.

Kirk's is aiming to counter that criticism by painting himself as a fiscal hawk and corruption antidote.

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