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U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk greets the crowd in Wheeling, Ill. as he accepts the Republican nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat, on Tuesday Feb. 2, 2010.
His first general election advertisement begins with a simple statement.
“Hi, I’m Mark Kirk, an independent-minded Republican for senate,” Kirk says.
That he opened with a line about his political affiliation speaks volumes about what sort of political climate is circulating in Illinois these days, according to Jonathon Martin at Politico.
“But with former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich under indictment, the calculation among Republicans appears to be that there's now an upside to embracing a label that distinguishes them from a majority party embroiled in scandal,” Martin writes about the ad playing in a Democratic stronghold.
The calculation here is that the Democratic brand is so injured that being a Republican is no longer seen as a detriment.
Beyond that assessment, it appears that Kirk has decided not to tack conservative.
But Kirk says flatly that he rejected the “Bridge to Nowhere” that dogged Palin, and touted his record of supporting stem cell research, a moderate gamble.
It will be interesting to see how embattled Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias will respond.