Mark Kirk Name-Drops Michelle Obama as Potential 2016 Challenger - NBC Chicago
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Mark Kirk Name-Drops Michelle Obama as Potential 2016 Challenger

The Republican U.S. senator worries about competition from FLOTUS



    Mark Kirk knows Michelle Obama's not interested in his job, right?

    This summer the First Lady debunked rumors that she was running for public office in her native Illinois, but Kirk—the Republican junior senator from the Land of Lincoln—has nonethless name-dropped FLOTUS as a potential contender in 2016.

    The Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet reports that Kirk recently referenced past speculation while soliciting campaign contributions in a memo to donors as part of an apparent fundraising tactic to pad his war chest by establishing a viable threat: Mrs. Obama, whose A-list name recognition, fundraising power and popularity (especially among women) vastly outshine his own.

    "I'm not one to believe rumors or engage in political gossip, but when it comes to defending the Illinois Senate seat that I’m honored to hold, I take all potential threats seriously," Kirk wrote in a Sept. 5 letter. "The press and rumor mills ponder the 'will she or won't she' question with regard to Michelle Obama ... and the circumstances (and denials) are reminiscent of 1999 when First Lady Hillary Clinton was the subject of whirlwind speculation about a run for the United States Senate."

    No opponent has surfaced to take on Kirk ahead of November's midterm elections.

    Late June, Obama said she "definitely" will not enter politics after President Barack Obama's second term, moving to dispel growing buzz that suggested that she was eyeing Kirk's seat in 2016. A 2012 poll showed her defeating the incumbent in a head-to-head matchup.