03/24/2014 03:30 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2014

Mark Kirk Blasts 'Partisan Jihad' As He All But Endorses Dick Durbin Over GOP Rival

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) hinted he won't be toeing the party line when it comes to backing a candidate in the upcoming election for one of Illinois' U.S. Senate seats.

On Monday, Kirk told the Sun-Times he would not be campaigning for Jim Oberweis, a fellow Republican, current state senator and dairy magnate looking to oust Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in November.

"I'm gonna be protecting my relationship with Dick [Durbin] and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership to both pull together for Illinois," Kirk said.

Though Kirk stopped short of flat-out endorsing Durbin, his refusal to stump for Oberweis comes as little surprise: Kirk previously implied Oberweis was "the top anti-gay bigot in the state."

Kirk has enjoyed a positive relationship with Durbin, particularly for supporting issues like gun control and same sex marriage. Oberweis, meanwhile, staunchly opposes marriage equality and called for the ouster of then-Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady, who supported the issue.

Oberweis, who previously said he'd be the candidate to "retire [Durbin] permanently]," faces long odds against Senate Majority Whip Durbin in the fall. Stats wizard Nate Silver recently predicted Durbin had a 95 percent liklihood of retaining his seat come the November election.

Watch a video of Kirk above.

Correction: An earlier version of this story characterized Nate Silver's prediction as relating to the percentage of total votes rather than the probability of winning.



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