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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10) “fled reporters following an appearance at a luncheon in downtown Chicago” 6/21. He has “dodged reporters for a week after acknowledging he embellished stories about his military service.” He “ran from a pack of reporters” through “a back door through a kitchen prep area and onto a loading dock where a car waited for him” after speaking for about 20 minutes.
“The rapid departure came after Kirk offered his answers on a series of pre-arranged questions dealing with planning and urban growth issues such as public transit to Lake Michigan’s water levels” (Chase, “Clout Street,” Chicago Tribune, 6/21).
Kirk “has been on the defensive and has kept a low profile,” but “seemed to hint at the controversy” when he “recited a list of facts about the tough economy” during his speech before he “ducked out the back door.” Kirk: “Some may wonder if I’ve exaggerated the last points.”
He also “was quick to jab” at Treas. Alexi Giannoulias (D), who has proposed to set up a special fund to “modernize the nation’s infrastructure.” Kirk: “At least the FDIC wouldn’t close that bank.”
Kirk’s camp said he left without answering questions because he had another event to get to (Bellandi, AP, 6/21).
Crain’s Chicago Business’ Hinz says Kirk “literally ran out the hotel door rather than answer questions.” He “bolted” with the “media in hot pursuit” and jumped into the back seat of a black SUV “which instantly peeled out.”
“Frankly, I’m kind of stunned about this. Bad publicity is bad publicity, but there’s a way to not make it worse.” Kirk “can’t hide until” Nov., “he’s going to have to confront those nasty reporters sooner or later.” But “at least give” Kirk “credit for being fleet afoot. He moved so fast that none of the TV crews was able to get film of him.”
Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life…
ABC 7’s Thomas reports that mortgage broker Mike Niecestro (I) “did not file petitions for a position” after vowing to run to the right of Kirk. Niecestro said “that his petition drive fell way short of its goal” because a “certain” GOP “politician” did “not make good on his promise to get” 45K. In fact, “according to Niecestro, the politician known as a ‘flake’ in GOP circles, delivered a goose egg.”
Ret. Marine Randy Stufflebeam (C) did file as part of the Constitution Party slate. But the Tea Party favorite said he filed only 34K signatures, which may fall short of the 25K needed after certification. “So self-described moderate Kirk is likely not to have conservatives on the ballot to take away right wing” votes.
“So it’s not all bad news for Mark Kirk. Despite his credibility issues and recent status as a ‘media fugitive,’ he’s still very much in the running. No pun intended” (“Precinct7,” 6/22).
They Can Do That? … Will It Still Be Green?
Meanwhile, Giannoulias was his “usual affable, if slightly flip, self” at the luncheon speech (6/21). He and Kirk agreed that the six-month drilling moratorium made sense, but disagreed about cap-and-trade. Giannoulias: “We need to put a price on carbon emissions.”
Kirk said that “would hurt business and deter job growth. He advocated building more nuclear power plants instead.” Giannoulias advocated reversing the Chicago River, back to its natural flow, but Kirk disagreed, saying that would “send pollution into the region’s drinking water supply.” Freelance writer LeAlan Jones (G) was also in attendance, and “disagreed with cap and trade, saying it ‘would put an undue burden on industry’” (Pyke, Arlington Heights Daily Herald, 6/21).
VP Biden attended a fundraiser for Giannoulias on 6/21, and he “came with a message: Alexi Giannoulias is going to win.” Biden: “The reports of the demise of the Democratic Party are premature.”
The race “apparently now seems worth the fight” to the WH, who is “suddenly doubling down to try and keep” the seat (Zeleny, New York Times, 6/21). Giannoulias, to Biden: “It would be the honor of my life to come to Washington, DC and be able to help you move this country forward” (Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/22).
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The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."