POLITICS

Kirk Seeks Palin Endorsement One Year After Trashing Her

Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois is reportedly trying to get Sarah Plain to endorse his candidacy, which is not surprising considering the formidable sway the former Alaska governor seems to hold on the conservative movement.

But there's good reason to think Kirk will come up short in his efforts. And its not simply because the tea-party set feels he lacks the ideological bonafides.

Kirk was one of the first elected Republican officials to raise concerns about Palin's selection as John McCain's vice presidential candidate. Back in October 2008, the Illinois Republican told the Chicago Tribune that he "would have picked someone different." Asked later whether he thought Palin was qualified to be one heartbeat away from being commander in chief, Kirk replied: "Quite frankly, I don't know."

Quite a few other Republicans were distancing themselves from Palin around the same time. But Kirk was actually associated with the McCain campaign -- having bundled for the Senator -- making his remarks all the more of a distraction for the Arizona Republican.

Kirk, significantly, is using back channels to ask for Palin's endorsement. Illinois is not a conservative state, and to win the general election, a Republican would have to show some streaks of political moderation.

The emergence from the right of Patrick Hughes, a Chicago-area developer, as a primary opponent undoubtedly is convincing Kirk that he needs a bit more conservative cred. These days, Palin is the surest way to cover that flank.

But whether she is the forgiving and forgetting type remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Hughes responds to the news by mocking Kirk for trying to undergo a late-in-life conversion to conservatism.

"I believe Mark Kirk, who has consistently supported President Obama's legislative agenda, including cap and trade legislation, is quickly realizing that Republican Primary voters do not share his extreme views. In a desperate attempt to prove otherwise, he is seeking the endorsement of Sarah Palin, a true Reagan conservative, to help disguise his liberal voting record."