When Mike Niecestro visits Tea Party Patriot rallies around Illinois, he always hears the same complaint about the Republican Party’s Senate candidate.
“A lot of these people are saying, ‘We can’t hold our nose and vote for Mark Kirk.’”
So Niecestro, a 51-year-old mortgage banker from Itasca, is offering himself as a strong cup of tea to Kirk’s watered-down brew. Niecestro, who is attempting to join the race as an independent, believes there’s no difference between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias on the issues.
“Mark Kirk has pretty much a liberal social and fiscal record,” Niecestro says. “He voted for cap and trade, which a lot of conservatives haven’t done. He’s a guy who talks about his military record, but he voted against his own president’s surge. How can you back the military and not back the soldiers?”
As a small-government conservative, Niecestro wants to eliminate the departments of Energy and Education, simplify the income tax code to a two-tier system (12 percent for the first $75,000, 18 percent thereafter), and place a two-year moratorium on federal government hiring.
“Government does not create jobs,” he says. “The only jobs that government creates are government jobs. Government is the number one employer in the U.S. One of nine are now making six figures. In the private sector, you’re lucky to have one in 16.”
Niecestro’s website says he favors drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve and the Gulf of Mexico. The BP spill hasn’t changed his mind.
“I think what happened there was a very, very rare situation,” Niecestro says. “This was one of the biggest disasters ever. Like Katrina, nobody was prepared. There are now going to be better, safer methods for companies to drill.”
Would Niecestro even favor drilling in Lake Michigan, if oil were discovered there?
“If there’s oil under Lake Michigan, why not?” he says. “Absolutely.”
Niecestro says he’s willing to spend $1 million of his own money on the campaign, and expects his candidacy to force Kirk even further to the right.
“If I get my name on the ballot, Mark Kirk is going to go as far right as he can to get the conservative vote,” predicts Niecestro, who says he has already collected over 40,000 signatures -- more than the 25,000 he needs to join the race. Kirk supporters have called Niecestro a Democratic plant, but he insists that “I’m not going into this race to hurt Mark Kirk. I’m going into this race to help the conservative cause.”
Which Mark Kirk apparently hasn’t been.