THE BLOG
09/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mark Kirk and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer

So far, the summer of 2009 has been dismal for Republicans' only hope in Illinois, faux-moderate Congresscritter Mark Kirk. He hasn't had a single good thing to point to, but he has had a whole lot of "D'oh!" come his way, and largely of his own doing.

Kirk first came on many people's radar screens in early June, when he discussed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies how he actively worked to personally undermine the U.S. economy, and, no, that is not an exaggeration:

One of the messages I had [in my meeting with Chinese leaders] -- because we need to build trust and confidence in our number one creditor," said Kirk, "is that the budget numbers that the U.S. government had put forward should not be believed. The Congress is actually gonna spend quite a bit more than what's in the budget, and the health-care bill probably being the lead driver of additional spending by the Congress.

Of course, Kirk's attempt to undermine America's economy is purely political. He didn't hold a meeting with Chinese leaders to tell them that Bush's Iraq War was going to cost "quite a bit more" than promised or that it would be "the lead driver of additional spending by the Congress." So, Kirk is out to undermine our country's ability to finance public initiatives for purely political reasons. But that was just the first stumbling block in Kirk's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad summer.

Also in early June, Kirk divorced his wife of eight years. Now, of course, this item should not be politicized. Unfortunately for Kirk, the person politicizing the divorce is Kirk's wingnut Republican primary opponent, Andy Martin:

Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk caught in divorce lies
Kirk claimed that his Virginia divorce files were "unsealed" and open to the public. The Clerk of the Circuit Court in Alexandria says Kirk's files remain "sealed" and closed to the public.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA COURT CLERK SAYS CONGRESSMAN MARK KIRK'S DIVORCE FILES ARE "SEALED
KIRK FALSELY CLAIMED THEY WERE "UNSEALED"
ANDY MARTIN IS ON THE CASE, DIGGING FOR THE FACTS AND THE TRUTH ABOUT MARK KIRK

Powerhouse and U. S. Senate candidate Andy Martin announced today that Congressman Mark Kirk lied to the People of Illinois and the media when he falsely claimed that his divorce files had been "unsealed Martin contacted the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Alexandria, Virginia, where Kirk was divorced, and was advised that the file was "sealed

Martin has sent Kirk a letter (see below) threatening to sue Kirk for access to the sealed divorce records

. "It looks like we have another 'Jack Ryan scandal' on our hands Martin stated in releasing the Clerk's response.

"The mystery over the rumors concerning Kirk's private life, when now combined with his lies about 'unsealed' divorce files that are not in fact 'unsealed and remain secret, raise grave questions about Kirk's judgment, integrity and fitness to be a candidate for statewide office. The Illinois Republican Party is already a national laughingstock over the way Jack Ryan imploded. It looks as though Kirk has not learned the lessons of Ryan's campaign, and is seeking to trigger a new round of litigation about the secrets contained in Kirk's divorce materials.

[In 2004, Jack Ryan denied there was anything embarrassing in his sealed divorce files. After he won the nomination to oppose Barack Obama, the Chicago Tribune sued to open Ryan's sealed files. When the California divorce court ordered Ryan's records made public, Ryan resigned as a candidate and helped power Obama into the U.S. Senate. Carpetbagger Alan Keyes "moved" to Illinois and made a fool out of himself and the Illinois Republicans who invited him to replace Ryan.] [ FYI - This previously bracketed paragraph is part of the press release.]

"It is high time Kirk addressed both the rumors about his personal life and why he authorized the release of a lie to the media and public, falsely claiming his divorce case files had been opened to the public when that is in fact not the case.

For those who remember to the 2004 race for Illinois' U.S. Senate seat, the reason that Alan Keyes was named the Republican nominee was that the winner of the Republican primary, Jack Ryan, dropped out after his divorce records were unsealed, revealing some embarrassing information about him. Now, the exact same Senate seat is up six years later, and the likely Republican nominee has sealed divorce records, and Andy Martin will make sure every voter in Illinois knows about it. While Martin may be a wingnut, he did get 34 percent of the Republican primary vote in 2008's U.S. Senate race. So he may have a bit of a fan base. But that was just the second stumbling block in Kirk's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad summer.

After Democratic state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois' most popular elected official, decided not to run in the U.S. Senate race, Republican Kirk decided he was in, after months of waiting and waffling. Only, he didn't want any high-profile primary challengers to slow down his march to Election Day. This created a very embarrassing, bush league campaign announcement. Just consider this news flow, starting on Wednesday, July 8:

Kirk Will Run For Illinois Senate

Just hours after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan took herself out of the running for the seat held by Sen. Roland Burris (D), Rep. Mark Kirk (R) has begun telling influential folks in Washington that he will make the race. ...

National Republicans seem likely to line up behind Kirk although Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna is in Washington today meeting with people about a possible candidacy, according to a D.C. source familiar with the visit.

Kirk is in, but another high-profile GOPer might be, too, which leads to the news of Friday, July 10, Part One:

Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk (R) will not run for the open seat of Sen. Roland Burris (D) in 2010, a stunning reversal from just 48 hours ago when Kirk signaled to National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) that he would make the race.

Kirk's decision, a blow to Senate Republicans' chances in Illinois, came in the wake of Burris' formal retirement this afternoon.

It also followed a meeting of the Illinois Republican congressional delegation on Thursday in which his colleagues refused to back Kirk in a primary against Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna due, in large part, to his vote in favor of President Barack Obama's climate change bill.

Kirk's move makes McKenna the almost certain Republican nominee against either state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias or Merchandise Mart CEO Chris Kennedy next fall.

Then, Part Two:

Although Kirk has already told several national Republicans today that he will not run for the Senate, there is an ongoing effort now to convince him to re-think that decision, according to several sources close to the discussions. Pressure is now being brought to bear on Andy McKenna, who, according to knowledgeable sources, had told Republicans insiders that he would not run if Kirk got into the race. Once Kirk signaled he was indeed running, however, McKenna reconsidered and made clear he would in fact stay in. Sources close to McKenna say he has no plans to drop out of the race.

Then, Part Three:

After deciding not to run early this afternoon and telling several insiders he was out, Kirk seemingly had a change of heart -- believing that McKenna might be talked out of the primary race. ...

Sources close to McKenna insist he will not blink and that he is in the race to stay. If McKenna can't be talked out of the race, then Kirk will be out (again) -- although there is not likely to be any resolution until Monday at the earliest, according to those close to the situation.

Finally, the news of Monday, July 13:

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna said Monday that he will not seek his state's open Senate seat next year if Rep. Mark Kirk (R) does, clearing the way for Kirk to have a smooth primary.

Just three days after Kirk was telling colleagues that he had decided not to run because of the primary opposition, McKenna released a short statement saying he and Kirk have reached an accord.

"As party chairman my goal has been to build Party unity," McKenna said. "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."

So that was Republican Mark Kirk's campaign roll-out: a six-day back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth screw-up that culminated in Kirk throwing a temper tantrum, threatening to take his ball and go home, and ultimately shoving a Party leader under the bus. Welcome to the race, Kirk. But that was just the third stumbling block in Kirk's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad summer. Oh, yes, there's more.

Mark Kirk is a Naval Reservist; and, he was on active duty when he decided, in the last week of July, to hype his being on duty to campaign supporters via Twitter with a couple messages. The (possibly big) problem is that Kirk tweeting about his duty while on duty may very well be a violation of military regulations:

The potential problem, however, is that military regulations strictly forbid active-duty personnel who may be political candidates from engaging in anything campaign-related, even down to "behind-the-scenes activities."

An unnamed Department of Defense official told CNN: "We are aware of it and we are looking into it." So July ends with the Pentagon reportedly investigating whether or not Republican Mark Kirk violated military regulations.

And there you have the story of Mark Kirk and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer: personally undermining the U.S. economy; getting a divorce of which a wingnut primary opponent will doggedly investigate the sordid details; massively flubbing his Senate campaign roll-out in headline-making, embarrassing fashion; and possibly violating military regulations. And that's just June and July. I wonder what Republican Mark Kirk has in store for us in August.

Republican Mark Kirk has two advantages as a Senate candidate: his existing House campaign bankroll and his undeserved reputation as a moderate. Both "advantages" have begun to fall by the wayside this summer, as well. Though Kirk's bankroll, as of the end of June, just barely topped $1 million, Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias' campaign account has broken $1.65 million. So Kirk's money advantage is gone. Also, the DSCC has begun working to evaporate Kirk's faux-moderate image with a pair of informative and entertaining web videos:

Republican Mark Kirk has had nothing but bad news during this critical time as he attempts to introduce himself statewide to voters. Talk about a lousy first impression. Further, this is blue Illinois -- Barack Obama's Illinois. Kirk gets early benefit-of-the-doubt from the media due to his faux-moderate image; but, as Kirk continues to stumble and voters continue to get to know the real Mark Kirk, this summer should prove a microcosm of what will be Mark Kirk and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Senate Campaign as he goes down in defeat.

{Originally posted at my blog Senate Guru.}

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