WASHINGTON – Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket will be insignificant to the incumbent Republican's bid to return to the U.S. Senate next November, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk told CNN this week.
Why? Because Kirk has consistently supported gay rights, Planned Parenthood and opposed gun rights, he said. His Democrat opponent Tammy Duckworth and he agree on all those issues.
"These days I'm probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice," Kirk said, despite the fact he will support a Trump nomination.
Kirk has been endorsed by the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign and is also the rare Senate Republican to embrace President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. GOP leaders have refused to hold a hearing or vote on the nominee, but Kirk is using the issue to show his independence from his party.
Like businessman Donald Trump, Kirk boasts of how independent he is of the conservative Republican leadership. That anti-establishment campaign rhetoric is likely to appeal to Trump voters, but it isn't crucial to victory, Kirk told CNN.
"Often times, just to upset (Sen.) John McCain, I remind him in the last election where we shared the ballot together, I ran 16 points ahead of him," Kirk said in an interview, referring to the 2008 presidential race and his congressional campaign. "I've always run way ahead of the Republican ballot."
Or will 2016 be the "Year of the Women" in Illinois? More at CNN.com