Mark Kirk: Practicing Bi-Partisanship the Way George Ryan Intended It!

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on March 29, 2014

Back in 2010, there were Republican strategists and talk show hosts who were lecturing the more conservative in the GOP tent about the importance of voting for anyone with an “R” in front of their names – regardless of how little they had in common with the Party platform. Here in Illinois, we are all too familiar with the pitfalls of voting for RINOS, just for the sake of not voting for Democrats.

Convicted felon and former Republican governor, George Ryan prided himself on his ability to work with Democrats. In fact, there were Democrats who had engaged in a smear campaign against Ryan’s Democrat challenger in the 1998 gubernatorial election, Glenn Poshard, a more conservative candidate than the Republican Ryan. Ryan, the “deal maker,” had more in common with Chicago Democrats than he did with most Republicans. On Monday, another Illinois Republican has reached across the aisle in an attempt to show just how much he is willing to work with Democrats – at the expense of his constituents.

In the recent Illinois Primary election, State Senator Jim Oberweis had won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in the November election. On Monday, however, sitting Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk had announced that he will not endorse Oberweis due to his working relationship with Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, Oberweis’ opponent.

This endorsement is a strikingly similar, yet obvious variation of the Unwritten Rule of Wisconsin Politics.

Nobody who blindly supported Kirk based on his Party affiliation should feel blindsided by this announcement. After all, the argument that those people used in his defense is that a candidate who supports the party platform eighty percent of the time is acceptable. Unfortunately, not every issue has the same value; you may agree with a candidate on eighty percent of the issues, but if that candidate believes that his self-serving urges trump the well-being of his constituents and his Country, then this one disagreement negates everything that is agreed upon.

According to Kirk, he has a relationship with Durbin in which both of them “fight for Illinois.” Who or what is this enemy that Durbin and Kirk are fighting against? What accomplishments do these two have to show for this fight?

When Kirk was running for the Senate back in 2010, he had baggage. First, as a member of the House of Representatives, he voted for the Cap and Trade bill; as soon as he cast this vote, he exiled himself from the media – and his constituents as to not explain his vote.

Second, he went into hiding once again after it was discovered that he had lied about his military record – and telling an unsubstantiated story about being rescued by the Coast Guard after his boat allegedly capsized. Despite going into hiding during a Senate race, his supporters – the same people who were calling him “the most-electable conservative candidate” during the primary race, had not questioned this breech in his credibility. Also, as a politician, he has shown little, if any conservative leanings. In fact, he has seemingly disavowed any support of conservative principles.

The fact that a Republican Senator would endorse his Democrat counterpart, who in theory would negate his votes in the Senate, is a symptom of the illness of individuals who “work” in the Senate to fulfill their own personal interests. This is the trademark of a bureaucrat: no interest in people or results. In fact, Senator Kirk has openly given his support to one of the very people in the Senate who many Republicans and independents perceive as symbolic of everything that is wrong and dysfunctional in Congress. This decision by Kirk is another one of the reasons why Illinois politics is the envy of some third-world countries.

If Senator Kirk faces a primary challenger in 2016, will his previous supporters remember how he endorsed a Democrat who ran against the nominee from his supposed party, and admit to making a mistake six years earlier? Will these supporters give Kirk “one final last chance – before the next,final last chance?” Or, will he switch Parties before then?

The irony in this flagrant act of self-servitude is how Kirk had abandoned the very RINO principle that had helped him win a Senate seat back in 2010, which is to blindly support and vote for the Republican candidate – regardless of how little he or she supports the Party. Of course, this rule does not apply to truly conservative candidates who are willing to support the Party platform, such as Christine O’Donnell.

Perhaps it is time to start handing out a yearly – or weekly– George Ryan Award. This award will be a symbol of recognition that is given to a deserving recipient who transcends the philosophy of public service and self-sacrifice in order to support their common ideology with Democrats. For the first George Ryan Award, we have our first nominee: Mark Kirk. Unfortunately, there is a strong field of other deserving contenders.

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Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for