It’s only Monday, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is not the first person to describe Washington partisanship as jihad. But his use of the word to explain why he will not campaign for the Republican Senate candidate in his home state makes him an early contender for the Loop’s Quote of the Week.
Reminiscent of when the late senator Arlen Specter decried intra-party challenges as “sophisticated cannibalism,” Kirk told the Chicago Sun-Times that actively campaigning against fellow Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) would be “partisan jihad.”
“I’m going to be protecting my relationship with Dick and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership to both pull together for Illinois,” Kirk said.
In this age of hyper — and deepening, according to this post by colleague Chris Cillizza — partisanship, Kirk’s decision to not blindly stand with his party is noteworthy. To be sure, Kirk is not a strict partisan in the Senate. He voted with Democrats 28 percent of the time in 2013, according to his Congressional Quarterly vote study.
Kirk’s quote is good, but the week is young. With Congress back from recess, and the end of the quarter fundraising push, the competition will be steep. Underscoring that point, former senator Scott Brown stepped in the ring with a quote that rivals Kirk’s. According to the Associated Press, the Massachusetts-turned-New Hampshire politician said this when asked about his ties to the Granite State:
“Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. ‘Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state.”
And the battle begins…