Below, Kirk statement.....(with typo in headline)....
***THOUGHTFUL, INDEPENENT LEADERSHIP***
Kirk: "Tonight, we begin a journey together to right our ship of state and reclaim our place as the honest Land of Lincoln - the center of North America's economy and crossroads of the nation."
Five-term GOP congressman, Navy veteran outlines vision for a brighter future for Illinois families based on reform, job creation and economic growth
Illinois Senate race a "Tossup" - Early Advantage Goes to Kirk
Wheeling, IL - Five-term Congressman and Navy veteran Mark Kirk tonight presented his vision for reform, job creation and economic growth in Illinois after claiming his party's nomination for U.S. Senate.
"Tonight, we begin a journey together to right our ship of state and reclaim our place as the honest Land of Lincoln - the center of North America's economy and crossroads of the nation," Kirk said. "This election will show that we will not surrender to the dangerous cynicism of low expectations. Here in Illinois, with our river, rail, road and aviation networks, our state remains the single best place to start a business and create jobs. But we need thoughtful, independent leadership to reestablish our natural advantages and restore our potential."
Kirk, who represents a Democratic-leaning congressional district in Chicago's northern suburbs, is well-known for his record of thoughtful, independent leadership. In 2008, one Chicago newspaper dubbed him "Mr. Independent."
In Congress, Kirk stopped BP's plan to pollute Lake Michigan, took on leaders of his own party to cancel funding for the Bridge-to-Nowhere, fought the Sugar Lobby to save Illinois jobs and stood up to Big Tobacco to protect kids from candy cigarettes.
"It takes a thoughtful, independent leader to earn the people's trust in every election," Kirk told his supporters. "We know that one political party cannot hold all the answers - and that one political party should never hold all the power."
Kirk built a record as a reform-minded social moderate, fiscal conservative and national security hawk. As a reformer, Kirk authored legislation to cancel pensions for congressional felons, co-sponsored legislation to ban pay-to-play in Washington and opposed a pardon for former Illinois Governor George Ryan. A fiscal conservative, Kirk swore off earmarks in 2008, opposed the recent stimulus and government health care bills, and support extending current tax relief. A national security hawk, Kirk served twice in Afghanistan as a Navy Reservist - the first sitting congressman to deploy to an imminent danger area since 1942. A social moderate, Kirk emerged as a national leader in the fight for embryonic stem cell research and Great Lakes restoration.
Recognizing the humiliation Illinois suffered following the arrest of ex-governor Rod Blagojevich and the corrupted appointment of Roland Burris, Kirk emphasized the need for reform in Illinois to restore integrity and public trust.
"To turn the page from Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris, the people of Illinois deserve a proven reformer who will fight for integrity in public office and forge a path to economic growth," Kirk said. "The election before us offers voters a clear choice: will we continue with leaders raised in the tradition of Rod Blagojevich - or will we elect a reformer who can make our state proud?"
Kirk, the only Senate candidate who speaks fluent Spanish, also highlighted the diversity of his campaign.
"When I talk about creating opportunities for everyone in Illinois - I mean creating opportunities for everyone in Illinois," Kirk said. "A mi amigos Latinos - hacemos la programa abuelita, oportunidades a leer par ninos en ingles y apoyo al gobierno Illinois contra pandillas y Mexicano contra las carteles. No matter who you are or what your background, if you want a better future for Illinois - this campaign is for you."
Local and national pundits currently rate the Illinois Senate race as a "Tossup." In December, a non-partisan Rasmussen Reports survey showed Kirk trailing the Democratic frontrunner within the margin of error and leading all other potential candidates. As of January 13th, Kirk held a 3-1 cash-on-hand fundraising advantage over the Democratic frontrunner. After a costly and bruising Democratic primary, Kirk begins the general election campaign with a significant advantage.