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Mark Kirk Drops Out of Illinois Senate Race

Chris Cillizza has the scoop:

Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk (R) will not run for the open seat of Sen. Roland Burris (D) in 2010, a stunning reversal from just 48 hours ago when Kirk signaled to National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman **John Cornyn ** (Texas) that he would make the race.

As we noted yesterday, when Burris decided to retire he created a much easier primary race for the Democrats. Cillizza reports that GOP state party chairman Andy McKenna is the new favorite for the nomination, but he lacks Kirk’s base in Democratic-trending suburban Cook County, and he lacks the war chest that Kirk had assembled. A Republican pick-up in President Obama’s home state just got much less likely.

It’s possible for Republicans to make Senate gains in 2010—they have solid candidates in every open seat race, they could pose real challenges in Colorado and Delaware, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is taking a while to recover from his financial troubles. But the possibility of the party seriously whittling down the Democratic majority in a way that could lead to a 2012 takeover is dimming.

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