Kirk says Obama should appoint a Scalia successor
Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says President Barack Obama should appoint someone to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, putting the Highland Park Republican at odds with his GOP leader in the Senate.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate shouldn't confirm a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart, until there's a new president.
Kirk could have pleased many conservatives by getting behind McConnell, but his position that Obama's appointee should get a hearing comes as he's running a re-election campaign in a state that has leaned Democratic for national races in recent history.
Kirk called the debate around Scalia's replacement "unseemly" in the days after he died Feb. 13, but pressure was growing for him to take a stand.
Kirk did not return requests for comment Monday, but in an op-ed posted on the Chicago Sun-Times website Monday, Kirk wrote about his recovery from a massive stroke in 2012 and how it sharpened his focus on a "shared common goal."
"I recognize the right of the president, be it Republican or Democrat, to place before the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court and I fully expect and look forward to President Barack Obama advancing a nominee for the Senate to consider," Kirk wrote.
Kirk's primary opponent, Republican James Marter of Oswego, agreed with McConnell that a new president should appoint a successor. So have GOP candidates for president and other Republican senators, turning Scalia's replacement into a hot national issue with implications on the Senate race in Illinois.
Kirk wrote Monday that Obama shouldn't appoint "a partisan or extreme nominee" and said he would not necessarily vote for Obama's choice.
Kirk is running for a second term in the Senate after serving a decade from the North suburban 10th Congressional District, a moderate swing district in recent years.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris are running for U.S. Senate in the other side's primary.
Duckworth and Zopp used Kirk's stance to try to push further, with Zopp arguing Kirk should commit to vote for "any qualified nominee" and Duckworth saying he should demand a hearing and vote.