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Mark Kirk

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Mark Kirk (1959-) is a U.S Representative (R-Illinois 10th district), first elected in 2000.[1] He is a candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against the retiring Roland Burris, who was appointed to fill the seat of Barack Obama when Obama became President. [2] In the Senate campaign, he intends to appeal to a broad Republican coalition, emulating the victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, although his main primary opponent charged he was actually a liberal and did not reflect conservative ideals.
If you’re the right kind of Republican who can put together a broad coalition of Republicans, independents, and some Democrats, you can repeat the Massachusetts miracle. [Scott Brown's] victory electrified Republicans in Illinois."[3]

A commander in U.S. Navy intelligence, he deployed to Afghanistan in December 2008, and has foreign affairs experience both in the executive branch and in non-governmental organizations. He has positioned himself as supporting a "Suburban Agenda" that is "pro-defense, pro-personal responsibility, pro-environment, and pro-science," and identifies as a moderate member of the Republican Tuesday Group.

His district is a suburb north of Chicago. He serves on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee and the bipartisan House US-China Working Group.

Committee assignments - 111th Congress

Caucuses and groups

Early career

After law school, he joined the staff of his predecessor in Congress, John Porter. He then worked for the International Finance Corporation at the World Bank, and then became Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for inter-American Affairs at the U.S. State Department from 1992-93. Next, he practiced law at Baker & McKenzie, and then joined the staff of the U.S. House International Relations Committee.


He has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and Bosnia. He was the first member of Congress to serve in an "imminent danger zone" since 1942 when he deployed as a reservist to Afghanistan in December 2008. While he had said he received a Navy “Intelligence Officer of the Year” in 1999 for his combat service in Kosovo, he had actually been the person receiving the award for his unit. Subsequently, he agreed he did not receive an individual award, and said "Most importantly, I wasn't thinking. This was a carelessness that did not reflect well upon me."[4]

In Afghanistan, he was assigned, for three weeks, to International Security Assistance Force Regional Command South, in Kandahar, developing a counternarcotics plan for southern Afghanistan. [5]

There are conflicting reports, including statements he made on the House floor, of his work with the Central Intelligence Agency, either as a Naval Intelligence officer detailed to CIA, or during his State Department work.


Foreign policy

Rep. Kirk has been highly complimentary of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; calling her "the superstar of the Cabinet. Everything she touches is well run." Speaking of her policy role, says Biden opposed sending 21,000 additional troops and Clinton favored it. "It turned into Biden vs. Hillary, and she crushed him." [6]


He supports sending more troops to Afghanistan, where he has personally served, even if Republicans oppose the cost. In a forum on foreign policy, he supported providing large bonuses to military personnel who commit to service in Afghanistan for the duration of the war, and developing a high level of language skill. [7]

Human rights

Active in the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, he has wbeen involved substantially with Sudan and the Darfur Conflict. He is an adviser to the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.


A strong supporter of the State of Israel, he plans a visit there in alternate years. [8] Co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Israel at the UN, he has questioned the Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza conflict and the UN Human Rights Council, saying "The UN Human Rights Council seems more concerned with castigating the State of Israel than ending genocide in Darfur, stopping mass murder in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or ending human rights abuses in countries like Iran and North Korea...Given the Human Rights Council's decision to prioritize the castigation of Israel at the expense of the rights of people in Darfur, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, the U.S. Administration should reconsider its membership" [9]

Social issues

While he voted for the Stupak Amendment to the H.R. 3962 health care bill, he supports access to birth control and abortion.


He originally voted for cap and trade, but changed his position and made it clear. "When I decided to run for the Senate," he said, "I spent 40 days in 28 Illinois cities, and at the end of that I felt that while the bill had little impact on my north suburban district, it had a tremendous impact on Illinois heavy manufacturing, agriculture, and mining. So at the end of August, I made the decision, the first time in my career to change my position on an issue, and announced that as a senator," [he would oppose it] "When you change your position on an issue, in my view you should do it in public with the full YouTube impact and be very clear why."[3]

Voting ratings rates him as a centrist. [10]

Organization Rating Date
American Civil Liberties Union 47%
American Conservative Union
American Public Health Association 12%
Americans for Democratic Action
Americans United for Separation of Church and State 27%
Cato Institute 50%
Christian Coalition 69%
Human Rights Campaign 75%
League of Conservation Voters 80%
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 53%
National Rifle Association D
National Right to Life Committee 100%
National Taxpayers Union 53%
U.S. Chamber of Commerce 89%

Sources: Links to the voting ratings guides of the above organizations together with brief descriptive information on the organizations themselves, may be found at:

2008 Election

Candidate Party Vote total Percentage

Source: Federal Election Results - final official tally

2010 Elections

This election is necessarily tied to the national level, since it was the Senate seat of Barack Obama.

In the primary, his opponent, Patrick Hughes, said What got me into the race specifically was two things: one, Mark Kirk’s vote for cap and trade. … After he voted for cap and trade, I looked at his record [opposing] the [Iraq] surge and his incredible social liberalism."[3]

For the general election, he faces Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer and a basketball-playing friend of Barack Obama. His family owns Broadway Bank, which is reported to be near collapse and possibly involved with organized crime; it is unclear how much involvement the candidate has with the bank. Other corruption issues may surface when former Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich comes to trial in June. The Giannoulias campaign says they are ready.[11]

Shortly after the Democratic health care legislation passed, Kirk promised to work for its repeal. Two weeks later, however, he said "I voted against it, but we lost. My job is to explain how this will affect voters." His opponent is quoting Rachel Maddow's challenge to Kirk, "Really Mark Kirk, you want to lead the effort to restore the insurance industry's right to deny coverage to kids who have preexisting conditions?"[12]

Kirk has always supported abortion and other reproductive rights. On April 8, he differentiated himself from conservative Republicans and reinforced his moderate stance by appearing at the University of Chicago medical school to advocate a bill he has co-sponsored to make permanent President Obama's authorization of stem cell research. President Bush had vetoed similar legislation in 2005. [13]

He declined to say if Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele should resign.



  1. About Mark, U.S. House of Representatives
  2. Kirk for Senate
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 John McCormack (1 February 2010), "Mark Kirk: Illinois "Can Repeat the Massachusetts Miracle"", Weekly Standard
  4. Alexi Giannoulias says Kirk mixed politics and military service, Politifact, July 2010
  5. Phil Ponce (5 January 2009), WTTV "Chicago Tonight" - Transcript
  6. Ken Dilanian (10 June 2009), "Clinton adopts low-key style at State Dept.", USA Today
  7. Foreign Policy Initiative 2009 Forum, Advancing and Defending Democracy, Foreign Policy Initiative, 21 September 2009, pp. 8-11
  8. Five Minutes With Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL), United Jewish Communities, December 2003
  9. Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis (16 October 2009), "'Why should U.S. taxpayers subsidize anti-Israel activities?'", Haaretz
  11. Daniel Libit (9 April 2010), "Giannoulias Campaign Trying to Control Message", New York Times
  12. Mary Ann Ahern (31 March 2010), "Mark Kirk Backs Off "Repeal" Charge", NBC Chicago
  13. Abdon M. Pallasch (8 April 2010), "Kirk woos moderates with stem cell stance", Chicago Sun-Times