Mark Kirk has never had many fans in the Tea Party Movement. He’s the archetype of the middle-of-the-road Republican they’re trying to purge from the Republican Party. As a congressman, Kirk voted for the Wall Street bailout, the Stamp Act of the modern Tea Party.
Tea Partiers have managed to knock off establishment Republicans in primaries all across America -- in Alaska, Kentucky, Utah and now Delaware. But in February’s Illinois primary, Kirk clobbered their candidate, businessman Patrick Hughes.
Now, Alexi Giannoulias’s campaign is helpfully suggesting that Tea Partiers take revenge by voting for Mike Labno, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate. That would, of course, help Giannoulias by drawing votes away from Kirk.’
“Conservatives here don’t trust Congressman Kirk on the issues they care about: guns, choice, immigration, cap and trade and the Wall Street bailout,” Giannoulias campaign manager Michael Rendina wrote in an open letter to Tea Partiers. “As the national conservative movement descends on Chicago this weekend for Right Nation -- where Congressman Kirk is blowing off his base and Mike Labno is sure to appear -- Illinois conservatives will have a chance to voice their disapproval of establishment, D.C. insiders who waiver on their fundamental values.”
It’s pretty rich for an ally of President Obama’s to offer advice to conservatives. But could the Tea Party movement hurt Kirk in November? We rate that assertion “Truthish.”
Here’s an e-mail from Steve Stevlic, coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots Chicago:
The Tea Party Movement is made up of individuals. Some will hold their nose and vote for Kirk, some will vote for a conservative third party candidate, others are undecided and most everyone is sick of talking about the Senate race.
The latest Chicago Tribune poll found over 60% of Illinois voters lack confidence in Springfield and 55% don’t have much or any confidence in the federal government in Washington. Whether you identify yourself as supportive of the Tea Party movement or not, we reflect the majority of voter sentiment in Illinois - we’re sick of the ruling class in Washington and Springfield.
The fastest growing portion of the electorate in the United States is unaffiliated fiscal conservatives - the Tea Party. The only campaign that has not reached out to us is the Kirk campaign.
Kirk has failed to engage the most energized segment of the conservative movement, which may be one reason his poll numbers are stuck in the low 40s. Bill Brady, who has embraced the Tea Party, is winning his race for governor by double digits.
Libertarian Mike Labno only got 3 percent in a recent poll. But Kirk and Giannoulias are running in the closest Senate election in the country. That 3 percent could be the margin of victory.
The Tea Party is motivated by ideology, not partisanship. One of its leaders, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), “insists that he would rather have a pure conservative minority than a majority full of Republicans in name only,” according to The New York Times.
Mark Kirk has been called a RINO before, but so far, it’s never cost him an election.