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2012 ELECTION, ILLINOIS, POLITICS, THE STATE OF STATES

Senator Mark Kirk To Endorse Romney in GOP Race

via Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune

Mark Kirk will formally endorse former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination on Monday, sources close to the political operation of the first-term Illinois Republican senator said Sunday.

Kirk, the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, will join more than 50 members of Congress who already have endorsed Romney’s candidacy, leading up to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.

“Romney will cut spending, repeal the health care law and restore private sector economic growth.  He is a foreign policy hawk who will stand up to Iran,” Kirk said in a statement prepared in advance of his endorsement and provided by his political operation.

“America needs his managerial talent, team building spirit and hard-nosed sense of economic common sense,” Kirk said.

In September of last year, Romney keynoted a fundraiser for Kirk, who was then a five-term congressman seeking the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC also gave $6,000 to Kirk’s winning Senate campaign against former Democratic state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, federal campaign disclosure reports showed.

The value of Kirk’s endorsement is debatable. Illinois doesn’t hold its presidential primary until March 20 and it is questionable whether what has been a fluid race for the Republican nomination will continue. But Romney has a strong ground operation in Illinois, which has a large number of convention nominating delegates at stake if there is a Republican contest.

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