By Howard Foster -
Mark Kirk may have been the only Republican U.S. Senator to lose, and readers of this site should consider that a positive political outcome. (Update: New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte has since conceded to her Democrat opponent as well.) He proved to be not only a turncoat, but also mentally unfit for his job. From one cringe-inducing insult to another, Illinois Republicans had every reason to wonder why Governor Rauner allowed him to run for re-election. Perhaps the real story will now be told. The governor is said to be close to Kirk and could have asked him not to run for re-election. We may then have had a nominee who could have held the seat, though that would have been a tall order. Duckworth essentially ran an error-free campaign.
Ironically Kirk lost the collar counties, including DuPage, the very constituency his centrist (pro-immigration and gun control) views were supposed to appeal to. There was also a drop-off in support for him from Trump supporters in many downstate counties. Typical is Adams County, which includes the Republican stronghold of Quincy, on the Mississippi river, where Trump won 21,957 votes, a staggering 71% of the total. Kirk trailed with 17,454. Nearly one-in-five Trump voters refused to support him. So he ended up having no natural constituency beyond hard-core Republicans.
Perhaps the Governor, whose money was otherwise well spent yesterday, carrying some new Republicans to the General Assembly over Madigan allies, will at least realize what does not work electorally in this state. Trump did not do well here (41%), but neither did Kirk. Yet Rauner, as principled a politician as we have, was elected to change this state. He should have focused on that and left Senator Kirk to his own devices.