Joe Walsh eyes challenge to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk

Former one-term Republican congressman and conservative radio host Joe Walsh says he's "seriously looking into" a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk next year.

"I have not made up my mind and hope to within the next month or two," Walsh said of a potential U.S. Senate campaign.

Walsh flirted publicly with a run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield two years ago before deciding to stick with the radio job.

Kirk, who suffered a stroke early in his first Senate term, comes to a primary race with a significant advantage as a Republican who is well-known statewide and has five terms of experience in the U.S. House representing the northern suburbs.

Kirk's office didn't respond to a request for comment, but the Highland Park Republican has said challengers have "quite a hill to climb."

"Everybody in business knows, to win a customer over who has already been a customer is pretty easy," Kirk said late last year. "In my case, I'm just asking the people who already voted for me in a majority to re-up."

Walsh said he's running because Kirk didn't work much for Republican Jim Oberweis' 2014 challenge of Durbin.

"As far as I'm concerned, he left the Republican Party," Walsh said of Kirk.

Walsh last year posted the N-word and other racially charged terms on Twitter after he was temporarily pulled from his radio show for a discussion of the language.

"I say and do what I believe in, and some people like that, some people don't," Walsh said.

Walsh told the Daily Herald in 2013 he was considering a run for Senate in the Republican primary eventually won by Oberweis. And shortly after his 2012 loss to Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, Walsh floated his name as a 2014 candidate for Illinois governor.

The Tea Party candidate never moved forward with either campaign.

Democrats have started to consider the 2016 Senate race as well, with Duckworth and U.S. Reps. Bill Foster of Naperville, Robin Kelly of Chicago and Cheri Bustos of East Moline all said to be eyeing the seat.

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U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, faces his first re-election campaign for Senate next year. Associated Press
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