Mark Kirk

Sen. Kirk ‘Not Surprised' Top Donor Flip Flops on Support

Republican businessman Ron Gidwitz initially called for Sen. Kirk to pull out of the race, but he later pleged his full support of the senator's re-election bid

A top GOP fundraiser who initially called for Sen. Mark Kirk to step down has reversed his stance and pledged his support for the senator's re-election in a move that Kirk's campaign says is not surprising.

Republican businessman Rod Gidwitz told Crain's Chicago Business Tuesday that Kirk's "misstatements" have hurt the Republican Party and that Kirk "could cause collateral damage." Later that day, however, Gidwitz reversed his statement and told the Chicago Tribune that he believes Kirk "is the strongest candidate to win the seat." Gidwitz then added that he "fully supports" Kirk's re-election.

A spokesperson for Kirk's campaign told NBC Chicago Wednesday that Gidwitz's conflicting comments were not surprising.

"Mark and Ron have had a strained relationship for years," Kevin Artl, the spokesperson, said. "Ron's initial comments and subsequent retraction don't surprise us at all."

The "misstatements" Gidwitz referred to have clouded Kirk's campaign in the last several weeks, including his characterization of Sen. Lindsey Graham as a "bro with no ho" and his comment that President Barack Obama wanted to give Iran nuclear weapons.

Kirk has since apologized for both comments.

Gidwitz's comments comes as results from a new survey were released showing that Kirk's approval ratings are down. In their survey, Public Policy Polling found that Kirk's approval rating has sunk to just 25 percent, down from his February approval rating of 28 percent. Furthermore, the poll found the number of those who disapproved of Kirk's job jumped to 42 percent from 32 percent in February.

A tough year is ahead for Kirk in the race to hold onto his Senate seat against Democratic opponent Rep. Tammy Duckworth. Public Policy Polling also found that Duckworth leads Kirk 42/36 in a hypothetical match-up.

Duckworth faces Andrea Zopp, former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, in the Democratic primary.

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