Bad For Business

That's how the Illinois GOP is treating Senate candidate Andy Martin's (R) accusation that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in Illinois' 2010 Senate race, is gay. The state party announced today that it is turning its back on Martin completely, CBS reports:

"His statements today are consistent with his history of bizarre behavior and often times hate-filled speech, which has no place in the Illinois Republican Party," the statement said. "Mr. Martin will no longer be recognized as a legitimate Republican Candidate by the Illinois Republican Party."

Martin made the accusation in a radio ad, and CBS2 Chicago reports that he claims it is based on a "solid Internet rumor" (if there is such a thing).

Martin, it appears, is a wholly unreliable source of anything, from what CBS2 has reported about him. A perennial candidate for office, he was convicted of assaulting two TV photographers in Florida, was denied admission to the Illinois bar over character issues, and once ran for Congress proposing to "eliminate Jew power in America," according to CBS2.  Kirk's campaign issued a statement that Martin's claims are "untrue and demeaning to the political process."

The station also reports that an openly gay Democratic candidate in the race is suggesting that Kirk, who is now on active duty as a Naval intelligence officer, could be subject to military investigation under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy--essentially using Martin's accusation as an opportunity to attack that policy.

Republicans have a decent candidate in Kirk in a race that, before his emergence, they wouldn't have expected to win: in a blue state, Kirk's candidacy has generated a good deal of national interest, and he is considered a solid contender for the seat. Rasmussen shows him trailing Democratic frontrunner Alexi Giannoulias by three percentage points; a poll released by Kirk's own campaign shows him ahead by seven.

Needless to say, Republicans won't want to see their shot at taking President Obama's old Senate seat ruined by rumors about Kirk's sexual preference. Regardless of whether the rumor is true or whether it's a complete fabrication from a known-to-be unreliable source, Martin is going to be looked at as raining on the party for Republicans inside and outside of Illinois.

A Senate election cycle is a tenuous thing: if a couple top-tier candidates drop off, the landscape is significantly altered. Should this rumor-fest succeed in sinking Kirk's candidacy, Martin will be remembered as a gigantic spoiler not just by Republicans in Illinois, but by the class of GOP establishment types inside the Beltway, too.