Mark Kirk says voters want to rein in government

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 9:48 AM

CHICAGO -- Emerging victorious in an ugly race for the president's former Senate seat, Republican Mark Kirk said Illinois voters clearly want him to rein in Democratic policies that increase spending and expand government.

But exit polling suggests that's not necessarily the case.

Kirk said his win was partly a rebuke of the White House - "I think to lose the president's seat sends a message," he said - but even more a rejection of Democratic leadership in Congress.

He promised to push for an extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, including those for the wealthy, and to fight unnecessary spending.

"If there is a verdict in this election it's that we shouldn't raise taxes," Kirk told reporters at a downtown Chicago train station where he greeted commuters as they got off their trains. "Instead, we should cut spending."

Still, he vowed to work with Obama.

"He's our president and it's up to every member of Congress to work with him," he said.

However, only two out of 10 voters said cutting taxes should be the top priority for the next Congress. The rest split about evenly between balancing the budget and spending money to create jobs.

And only one-third of voters said they cast their ballot to express opposition to President Barack Obama.

Kirk has also called for repealing the health care overhaul approved by Congress this year, but polling conducted for The Associated Press found only four in 10 voters agree with that. The rest either want the health care plan left alone or expanded.

Kirk, a congressman and Obama critic, narrowly defeated Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a basketball buddy of the president who would have been a strong ally in Washington.

Obama and his White House team campaigned hard for Giannoulias, hoping to avoid perhaps the most politically embarrassing loss on a night of losses for Democrats.

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