Foster: Joe Walsh Seriously Considering Kirk Challenge
By Howard Foster – From Illinois Review
Former Congressman Joe Walsh, the most outspoken conservative member of Congress from Illinois in decades, is considering challenging Sen. Mark Kirk in the March primary.
That is hardly news. But in my conversation with Mr. Walsh he indicated his number one issue would be immigration. He says “there is no more important domestic issue.”
That would make the challenge quite colorful, as readers of this site know, Sen. Kirk is in favor of sanctuary cities, which harbor illegal immigrants and in favor of more legal immigration. He voted for the 2013 immigration reform bill after promising not to, and takes a business-friendly approach to the issue with cheap labor being the goal. Walsh believes Republican voters have become disgusted enough with the levels of immigration and the government’s apparent inability to control the border for him to win a primary focused on that theme.
Walsh has very little time to make his move. The filing deadline for the primary is in early December. He is now amassing pledges of support that he hopes will turn into actual cash if he announces.
Mr. Walsh offered some choice words for his former colleagues in the House, including Paul Ryan. Ryan, the presumptive new Speaker of the House, is pathologically pro-immigration. He’s not only for amnesty but does not believe in any immigration limits at all. We now have a million legal immigrants per year. Walsh contends a lot of House Republicans would love to double the number of illegal immigrants in order to lower wages. They also secretly believe “it’s amnesty or death for the GOP,” he said, quoting Speaker Boehner. Walsh’s view is the opposite, amnesty guarantees the death of the GOP. The idea illegal immigrants and their Families will ever vote Republican is a fantasy given wide currency by the Chamber of Commerce and Paul Ryan’s followers. Most surprising to me was Walsh’s view that House Republicans do not actually believe the border can be enforced. It’s merely a talking point to appease the base.
The former Congressman says Governor Rauner and the Republican establishment know Senator Kirk cannot win re-election, and would like to see him retire. But he won’t go gently into the night, and realizing the optics of the situation, do not feel comfortable publicly asking the disabled Senator to step down. The Governor hopes to offset the damage Kirk will do at the top of the ticket by raising money for Republicans running for the Assembly.
Knowing Mr. Walsh from his radio program, it would seem we well have the most fascinating Senate primary in the country. Walsh, of course, would bring plenty of baggage to any campaign, including his 2012 defeat and some incendiary comments. But Newt Gingrich had even more baggage, enough to fill an airport, in 2012, and made the primaries interesting and won some contests. Given Kirk’s extreme vulnerability, he could well defeat him or force his retirement.