Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reflections on Cong. Kirk's announcement of his Senate bid, growing up in Kenilworth and Kirk's opponents; Quips by Kirk and Gov. Jim Edgar.

This post contains a discussion of yesterday’s announcement by Cong. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Highland Park) that he will be a candidate in the Feb. 2, 2010 U. S. Senate Republican Primary. It also contains media analysis, commentary on Kirk's current Republican Senate Primary rivals, commentary on potential candidates for the Democratic U. S. Senate Primary, and some quips by Gov. Edgar and Cong. Kirk from yesterday’s announcement.

We will follow up later today or tomorrow with more reporting on the substantive Q and A from yesterday’s presser with Cong. Kirk and from others who were willing to answer a few questions from yours truly.

Cong. Mark Kirk announces his run for the U. S. Senate

The announcement was made from Cong. Kirk’s boyhood home in Kenilworth, IL on Chicago’s North Shore. Kirk also spent some time growing up in Champaign, Harvey, Chatham and Downers Grove.

The North Shore- a collection of small towns.

It was a picture perfect environment and setting for the announcement. A smallish front yard to a smallish home [that of the former groundskeeper for the Kenilworth golf course, said Cong. Kirk], with maybe several hundred supporters crowded around to watch and listen to Cong. Kirk. If you didn’t know you were on the North Shore, you might have thought you were in Anytown, USA. In essence, the North Shore is a collection of small towns, each of which practices local control in the operation of relatively small school districts, park districts, library districts, village units—all run by local, elected board members. As Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is ultimately local,” and there is nothing more local than your local school board or park board.

Former Gov. Edgar at his side

Kirk made his announcement, with former Governor Jim Edgar [1991-1999] at his side. Aside from being the last elected Illinois Governor not to be indicted, Governor Edgar left office with a popularity rating said to be in the 70s, and it appears that his popularity has been maintained. Governor Edgar is a “moderate,” on abortion, but known as a fiscal conservative—not unlike Kirk.

After retreating to the house for a bit, Cong. Kirk answered questions from the media on a wide range of domestic and foreign public policy issues, as well as on politics. Whether you agree or disagree with the positions taken by Cong. Kirk, most will concede that handling the media with finesse, skill and knowledge will be one of the strengths for Kirk in the Primary [if he has a credible opponent] and in the general election.

Protest in Kenilworth: Nobody got shot-- go tell Amnesty International?

A small group of protestors on issues relating to healthcare insurance [Kirk doesn’t support a public option] and immigration [Kirk supports a fence on the southern border] chanted from the area just outside the front yard. All in all, the protestors didn’t really disrupt the event, although they communicated their dissatisfaction with Cong. Kirk. Actually, the protesters provided a nice reminder that this is America, where the right to express one’s view is protected by the Constitution—unlike, say, Iran, where people are shot by their Government for engaging in non-violent protests.

Indeed, Cong. Kirk could have stated, but he didn’t, that he served in Afghanistan and elsewhere to protect the rights of protestors to camp out in front of his boyhood home when he announced his effort to go to the Senate to continue to represent the rights of dissenters, among others.
A Media member: Kenilworth home is an embarrassment for a pol

One of the reporters attending yesterday’s presser asked Cong. Kirk:

Do you think it is a good idea, given these tough economic times, to announce your Senate bid in one of the state’s most wealthy towns?

The question is really silly. Does the reporter think it is a disqualification for the U. S. Senate to have grown up on the North Shore? Should Kirk, a naval reservist who was deployed to Afghanistan in December [the first member of Congress to serve in an imminent danger area since 1942], lie and tell people he never lived in Kenilworth?

Chris Kennedy

Will the same reporter ask Democrat Chris Kennedy, if and when he announces for the U. S. Senate, if he is embarrassed to live, with his family, in Kenilworth-- within walking distance from Kirk’s boyhood home. Or, maybe Kennedy should be embarrassed by the material and political wealth he inherited as the son of former Senator Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t think so, but maybe the reporter who asked the question of Kirk does.

Alexi Giannoulias

Will the same reporter suggest that Democrat State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias should hide from his family’s wealth, earned from the family owned bank, even though one of the reasons President Obama endorsed Giannoulias for Treasurer (over Speaker Madigan’s favored candidate in Giannoulias’ contested 2006 Democratic Primary) was the substantial money raised and donated by Giannoulias’ family and family friends to Obama early on in Obama’s U. S. Senate campaign. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Cheryle Jackson

Will the same reporter suggest that we investigate the amount of money earned by Democrat Cheryle Jackson, if she enters the U. S. Senate race, as the former Communications Director for the now indicted, impeached and removed Governor Rod Blagojevich? Or, maybe we should ask how much money Cheryle Jackson receives as President of the Chicago Urban League or for the Sunday morning TV show that she does and inquire if it is so much that she cannot identify with low and middle income voters across Illinois. I don’t think that question makes much sense but maybe the reporter who asked the question of Kirk does.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with media inquiring as to the net worth, tax returns of candidates for and holders of public office in order to investigate potential past, present and future conflicts, as well as if wealth was obtained in illegitimate, illegal ways. But, suggesting that Cong. Kirk should be embarrassed because he grew up in Kenilworth is just, well, plain silly—tough economic times, or not.
Endorsements of Kirk

Cong. Mark Kirk's staff handed out a list of endorsements from, among others, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Former IL Governors Edgar and Thompson, State Senate Republican Leader Radogno, State House Republican Leader Cross, Republican National Committeeman Pat Brady and a number of State Senators, State Reps, GOP State Central Committeemen and GOP County Chairmen.

Kirk’s Republican Senate Primary opponents

As of now, Cong. Kirk faces opposition in the Republican Senate Primary from Dr. Eric Wallace, John Arrington, Robert Zadek and Andy Martin. It appears that none of those candidates has a sufficient political base and access to money to run a credible campaign against Cong. Kirk.

Cong. Kirk’s views on the cultural issues give someone with a political base, political skills and the ability to self fund or raise substantial sums of money a big opportunity to challenge him in the Republican Primary. Kirk is very much pro-choice on the abortion issue, very much in favor of gun control and quite strong on gay rights. Futher, he was one of only eight Republicans to support Cap and Trade [or “Cap and Tax,” as it is known by many Republicans-conservatives and moderates], giving Speaker Pelosi just enough votes to pass her legislation to restrict carbon emissions. If there is one vote in Kirk’s ten year congressional incumbency that will motivate a credible conservative with a strong Message, Organization and Money [MOM] to get involved in the Senate Republican Primary, Cap and Trade would be it. Further, the Cap and Trade vote may undercut Kirk’s strong message and issue contrast with many Democratic candidates on “less spending and less taxes.”
Quips from former Governor Jim Edgar :

On the general tendency for things “to come up,” during an intense statewide campaign (including what might surface about Democratic U. S. Senate candidates):

…When you run for statewide office, a lot of things come out of your past that you don’t even know existed. …my mother was surprised about some of the things they said about me— my wife wasn’t-- but my mother was surprised…you know, the State Treasurer is young and aggressive. If he is the candidate, I think it will probably be a spirited campaign.

On Democrats’ fears of Cong. Kirk:

As we can tell, the Democrats are already nervous. I think that is part of the reason we didn’t have a special election earlier this year—when the Democrats knew that Mark Kirk was sitting out there and they couldn’t beat him. I think they were afraid to hold a special election and I think that bodes well for his chances in the fall.

On Kirk as a uniter, not a divider:

Mark is someone who can bring Republicans, Independents and thoughtful Democrats together.
Cong. Kirk on reform:

We must choose leaders who don’t become criminals.

Cong. Kirk on what to fight for:

--lower taxes
--veterans care
--strong national defense
--medical rights

Cong. Kirk on his commitments:

-- Defend the USA
-- Promote individual initiative and jobs
-- Protect the relationship between you and your doctor, making sure the government cannot delay or deny care
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at JBCG@aol.com. *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
A sampling of shows and clips from those posted during the last seven months on the Public Affairs YouTube page include a show with Cook County Board President Todd Stroger (D-Chicago), a show with Chicago Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, a candidate for Cook County Board President in the 2010 Democratic Primary, a show with economist Art Laffer [inventor of the Laffer Curve] and FNC's Steve Moore about their book, "The end of Prosperity," and the Obama Administration's economic policies; the fastest five minutes on the web- a New York Times video about Obama-Berkowitz, a show with State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), a show with Professor Stephen Presser, a Northwestern University Law School Professor, about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court, , the second fastest five minutes on the web- a segment of Bill O'Reilly with Berkowitz discussing a clip of Obama from 2002 on Blagojevich and many more shows.