Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


Cap’n Kirk Reporting for Duty

By Shawn Healy
On Monday, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) ended months of speculation over whether or not he would seek a promotion from the House seat he has held for five terms to the lofty confines of the stately Senate. Before entering the race, Kirk waited for the field to clear and yield a legitimate shot for a moderate Republican to steal the seat held previously by President Obama.

Kirk’s upsides are many. He won election and re-election in a Democratic-leaning north suburban district of Chicago that was carried by Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008. Last November, he claimed victory with 53% of the vote while Obama drew 61% atop the ticket.

He is also a formidable fundraiser, generating $5 million in the last cycle (a rough one for his fellow Republicans) with little help from the national party, while facing a deluge of negative advertising from his opponent, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and 527 groups to the tune of $7 million. In the current cycle, he has raised $1.2 million for his House seat that is immediately transferable to the Senate race. This figure is only slightly behind the take of his probable Democratic opponent, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias ($1.6). Kirk predicts that both sides will need to raise up to $20 million by Election Day next November.

The state and national Republican delegation has already coalesced behind Kirk. This includes former Illinois Governors Edgar and Thompson, current State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, Illinois House Leader Tom Cross, National Committeeman Pat Brady, and U.S. Senators McConnell and McCain. He will face token opposition from retired downstate Judge Don Lowery and Matteson publisher Eric Wallace, among others, but the February primary promises to be little more than a coronation.

This gets to the crux of the story. Kirk is a moderate Republican with a socially-moderate-to-liberal voting record. Co-chair of the centrist Tuesday Group, he is pro-choice, pro-gun control, and even in favor of federal hate crime protections for homosexuals. While Kirk has consistently opposed Obama’s economic policies since January, he did stand as one of eight Republicans, and the only in the Midwest, to vote in favor of the House cap and trade legislation to regulate climate emissions.

His defense rests on the notion that the legislation will reduce domestic dependence on foreign oil, yet conservatives consider it anathema to their cause, claiming the legislation would unleash the largest across-the-board tax increase in history. Given that 60 Democrats defected in the 219-212 vote, the bill was doomed had Republicans held the fort. Kirk and seven others seeped through the cracks, and the legislation now stands before a weary Senate with President Obama eager to offer his signature.

Conservatives have since labeled him with the moniker “Cap’n Kirk,” a play off of his distinguished service as a U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer as recent as 2008 in Afghanistan. The red meat portion of the Republican Party base is not known for its short memory, and Kirk must find a way to assuage their concerns in a primary season typically dominated by ideologues on each respective side of the aisle.

Assuming that Kirk survives, he has a betting chance to wrestle away a Senate seat in a purple state that has trended blue since 1998. By positioning himself as a centrist in tune with state voters’ values and removed from the scandalous Blagojevich years, Kirk becomes the antidote to candidates either tied to the disgraced governor, the pay-to-play culture that cripples the state., and the increasingly unpopular economic policies of the current president.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark kirk is slime. He is as anti-liberty as they come. Only in a fascist police state could he be considered "moderate". As usual, "moderate" means (when used by the clueless media) "completely unprincipled".

This jerk stands against the concept of property rights and individual freedom. He opposes gun rights and drug rights (two rights reserved to the people, under the US Constitution). He supports "tougher sentences" for marijuana users, including those who use this vastly-less-harmful-than-chemotherapy drug medicinally.

He supports the FDA in their attempts to deny patients to natural cancer cures, and supports the government schools' attempts to turn children into informants, a la "1984" with his support for the damn "drug war" and "war on gun owners". As such, he has made more war on the American people more successfully than any al qaeda operative has.

For his traitorous and anti-American positions, he deserves no quarter from those who favor individual freedom or property rights. He is literally in favor of jailing people for growing flowers. (Would George Washington, a hemp farmer, have sympathized with that?!)

To hell with mark kirk. May the name on his grave marker be lowercase, and may it arrive sooner than those hanging above the medical marijuana patients he wants to murder. Maybe then, we can have a respite from his nasty, vindictive, parasitic political views.

Long live property rights, long live America.

8:12 PM  

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Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at