Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk has had a bad few weeks of late. That's what happens when you decide to jump from the narrow confines of the 10th Congressional District and run for the U.S. Senate. Your every move is placed under the microscope. And there's that learning curve moving from a tiny district to the statewide stage.
The Highland Park Republican is being accused of flip-flopping on the "cap and trade" issue, whereby pollutants companies release would be capped, but they would be allowed to buy and sell them for more emissions. Sort of a mercantile exchange for industrial polluters. When Kirk was a congressman, he was one of a handful of Republicans to support the bill, mainly because he voted the narrow interests of his congressional district.
That's what congressmen do. They vote their districts. If they don't, they don't get re-elected. Senators are supposed to look at the big picture, the statewide canvas. Kirk says if first nominated and then elected next November, he will do that when it comes to "cap and trade."
Democrats have leaped on Kirk's "cap and trade" stance as changing his tune, while conservative Republicans, who haven't factored in a Senate or gubernatorial race since Peter Fitzgerald, are getting their pound of flesh from moderate Kirk. Fortunately, it is early for Kirk to rebuff these pre-campaign gaffes.
The only folks paying attention at this stage are political junkies and the opposition. Voters aren't focusing yet on any election, if early polls are any conclusion, and won't start concentrating on the Feb. 2 primary until after Jan. 1. There's plenty of time for the Kirk Express to get rolling across the Illinois prairies.
Republicans have targets of opportunity across the Land of Lincoln next year. Just don't get overconfident.