There are a several reports (here and here) that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is telling supporters that he’s running for the U.S. Senate. Kirk is not Jewish, but is the subject of a lot of attention in the Jewish political world because he represents the heavily Jewish northern suburbs of Chicago, and he’s seen as a leader on pro-Israel issues and close to AIPAC. He’s also viewed by many as a moderate on a number of domestic issues; in his campaign last year, Kirk won the endorsement of JACPAC, a Jewish political action committee devoted to the U.S.-Israel relationship and a domestic agenda that includes reproductive choice and the separation of church and state.
Democrats, though, aren’t wasting any time in going after him. Just an hour or two after the reports about Kirk running surfaced, a Jewish Democratic activist in his district was e-mailing out an attack on the Republican. The e-mail from Steven Sheffey acknowledges Kirk is strong on the issue of Israel, but lists more than a dozen other parts of the "Jewish agenda" where he argues that Kirk is not as strong, summing up: "If you are nostalgic for Bush and Cheney, then Kirk is your candidate."
Kirk looks to be in a strong position in the race for the seat now held by Roland Burris — the controversial appointee of since-ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Two of the Democrats’ top potential candidates, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, have already said they won’t be running.