Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

DSCC slams Kirk for not appearing in any debates


Below, release...


Kirk Has Yet To Appear At A Single Republican Debate Or Forum Since Announcing Run For Senate

Chicago Daily Herald In 1999: Kirk Heralded The Importance Of Debates, Challenged His GOP Opponents To Partake In Them

Tonight, the Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate will gather in Chicago for an important debate before the primary next month - but one candidate will not be on stage with the rest. Congressman Mark Kirk, who has not appeared at a single Republican debate or forum since announcing his run for Senate in July, has decided to skip the debate all together. Kirk, who has many questions to answer due to his numerous campaign flip-flops, hypocrisies, and distortions, continues to do Illinois Republicans a disservice by refusing to compare his record to the other candidates in the public arena. Even more incredulous is that Kirk heralded the importance of primary debates during his first run for Congress. In 1999, Kirk challenged his Republican primary opponents to debate in every township in the district. Now that he's running for Senate, he's changed his tune and is refusing to debate his opponents.

"The flip-flops just keep piling up for Mark Kirk, who seems utterly incapable of taking a position and sticking with it," said Kathleen Strand, Senior Advisor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "After heralding the importance of debates during his first run for Congress, Kirk is now ducking them left and right. If Kirk doesn't have the courage to stand up and defend his record before a Republican audience, how can he possibly be trusted to be a strong advocate for Illinois in Washington?"

This is not the first time Kirk has flip-flopped positions or shown hypocrisy on an issue. After voting against President Obama's stimulus package, Kirk called for stimulus money to be used to fund new hybrid engines for public buses in his district. Kirk was one of the only Republicans to vote for a cap and trade bill in the House of Representatives in June, citing national security reasons. However, after announcing a run for the Senate and facing heat from the right, Kirk did a complete back flip and declared he was now against the cap and trade bill he voted on just months ago and would vote against it when it came up again. With Illinois facing record high unemployment, Kirk decided to skip a crucial vote on extending unemployment benefits and has still not disclosed where he was and why he skipped the vote. Kirk used to be pro-choice, but recently voted for a pro-life amendment to the House health care bill, which caused backlash from NARAL. Kirk was dumped by several prominent environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters, after flip-flopping on his stance on a pollution tax. Finally, after initially praising Sarah Palin's pick to be Vice-President, Kirk backtracked during his tough re-election campaign in 2008 and said he would have picked someone differently. Now, as a Senate candidate, Kirk has been scrambling to get her endorsement.

2000 Campaign: Kirk Challenged His Republican Primary Opponents to Debate in Every Township in the District. In 1999, Kirk heralded the importance of debates, even challenging his Republican opponents to a debate in every township in the 10th Congressional District. From the Daily Herald: "Kirk issued the first challenges of the campaign Monday, proposing a $ 300,000 campaign spending limit, asking that Republicans not criticize one another in the primary and requesting GOP debates in every township in the district. 'I think it will be a tremendous tonic to the candidates,' Kirk said, 'because people in Libertyville and Winthrop Harbor and Deerfield can often differ in their views.'" [Chicago Daily Herald, 12/14/99]

2000 Campaign: Kirk Participated in Numerous Republican Candidate Forums and Debates. On March 1, 2000 all ELEVEN Republicans running for the 10th District Congressional seat. debated. From the Sun-Times: "The Republicans have appeared at numerous candidate forums, but Wednesday's town hall meeting on WBEZ-FM (91.5) was the only one scheduled to be broadcast." [Chicago Sun Times, 3/02/00]


give me a break! Channel 7 has asked that Martin charachter to appear. I understand several legitimate candidates refuse to be on the same stage with him, not just Kirk. Anyone who stands on the same stage with him to "debate" gives him credibility and should be ashamed.

It's not Martin he's afraid of. It's that people will finally find out that he's a liberal in Republican clothing. He leads now in the polls strictly on name recognition alone. Why put himself at risk? If he opens his mouth, people might see what he really stands for. The less he says, the better off he is.

I am not a "character." I am a candidate for United States Senator. No one has refused to appear on any stage to debate with me. Mark Kirk is just a coward; he saw his shadow and it's not even Groundhog Day.

Andy Martin

I believe thanks to my own letters, public perception at large has caused Mark Kirk's website to collapse. That's what apparently occurred to Mr. Kirk's website at (Go to "Issues & Actions" (bottom of page): click on "Read Your Letters to Leaders": Illinois (map): "Representative Mark S. Kirk.")

A Congressman has to be careful if he won't answer important questions on his own website.

What's most interesting is that just about everybody else has given up writing letters to Mr. Kirk at For want of a better focus, it appears they're only reading mine.

You be the judge. The following is the letter you'll find when you visit Mr. Kirk's site:

"Will Congressman Mark Kirk place public notices of our town meetings on District 10's tax-paid website, a resource Congressionally mandated for district use?"

I know it's hard to believe, Mr. Kirk. I've taken a few minutes, every business day, to call both your Northbrook and D.C. offices, always courteous, always with the same bread-and-butter question.

That's every business day since January 2, 2008, which now extends to 818 calendar days.

Are you managing this well? Since my calls began in 2008, Aaron Winters, Deputy Communications Director, has repeatedly stated he is not permitted to reveal if he has ever asked you this question. (Nevertheless, despite what may constitute a restraining order against my inquiry, and as the benchmark of 1,000 phone calls is approached, regretfully this question is being raised to an emergency status.)

Mr. Kirk, it's 818 days and counting. We need public notices on District 10's home page, at the top, ideally two weeks before each town hall meeting. Not targeted notices in e-newsletters to controlled lists of District 10 citizens. And not on "Mark Kirk's Blog" which in your nine-year tenure you've done a single time (a 2/5/09 two-day notice for a 2/7/09 meeting, since transferred to the new (July 2009) website's "News Center Blog" as though it were originally a public notice). A single instance in nine years does not establish a policy. District 10's new posting policy should be clearly stated on the website at

Your record of holding only three public town meetings, scheduled for public buildings, in all of District 10 throughout 2008, none closer than seven months before the 2008 November election, is another warning flag. District 10's town meetings, however few, deserve public posting on District 10's tax-paid website. As you know, public town meetings, not internet protection borrowed from abroad, are the key to participation in our government.

Will you give a publicly verifiable "yes" or "no"? After 818 days of unfulfilled calls, you may believe you can fool a single citizen all of the time. As other Illinoisans read these letters, you'll find you can't fool everyone in the land of Lincoln.

Politics, politics. Why would a Democratic operative care what the Republican's think? Is she concerned that the Dems. receive the strongest candidate to run against? I doubt it.

Kirk does NOT need to attend any debate. this debate is useless because the panel tend to be bias to certain candidates and definitely against Kirk. Why attend such debates?

Kirk does not need to lower himself to the level of some of these incompetent people by debating them, or give them the chance to turn a debate into a circus Also, now that he has the whole state to consider I'm happy that he is thinking beyond the 10th Congressional Dist in trying to consider the needs of all. That is a thinking, compentent person not a flip flopper!!!

Kirk doesn't have to sink to the lowest level by debating these people (others in Primary) who would love to turn the"debate" into a circus.Kirk has a proven track record after 5 terms in Congress!

I'm happy Kirk is considering the needs of the entire state now that he is running for the Senate.Kirk is a very compentent person and is doing what a smart thinking person needs to do consider the needs of the state not just his district. I'm happy that he has the sense to go beyond being a one thought guy ! Kirk will be "a man for all the people" not just the Northshore.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 14, 2010 10:13 AM.

Obama proposing banks that caused financial meltdown pay "responsibility fee" was the previous entry in this blog.

Michelle Obama on Sarah Palin is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.