The Republican congressman and Afghan war veteran is a moderate who has worked across the aisle.
US Rep. Mark Kirk (R) launched his bid for the seat Monday from the 10th Congressional District of Illinois, which he has represented since 2000.
Mr. Kirk said political reform will be “the center of the campaign,” and he wants to work to correct the state’s “reputation for being the most corrupt state in the country” due to the recent scandals involving former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and current senate seat holder Roland Burris.
Mr. Blagojevich was impeached in January after being indicted for 19 counts of corruption, including trying to sell the Senate seat currently held by Mr. Burris. Burris is being investigated for his possible role in participating in the pay-for-play scheme. Earlier this month, he announced he would not seek reelection.
Although Kirk insists corruption is not a party issue – he led his party in calling for the prosecution of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, who is now in federal prison on corruption charges – he says Illinois suffers because it is “a one-party state.”
“Normally these Democratic candidates [such as Blagojevich or Burris] would have been defeated because of their level of corruption, but when voters don’t have real choice, you have this level of arrogance,” he said.
Kirk said he would push for tougher ethics laws and encourage federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who led the investigation against Blagojevich, “to stay as long as he wanted.” “If any of our prosecutors want to go on to do other things in their lives, I think I would find prosecutors as aggressive and honest as Fitzgerald,” he said.