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April 15, 2009

Kirk raises big money, is a Senate race next?

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says he’s waiting until the end of the month to decide whether he’s running for higher office, but his first-quarter fundraising report puts him in sound financial position to run for the Senate.

Kirk raised $696,000 in the first three months of the year, one of the highest fundraising totals of any member of the House so far. He now has $597,000 in his campaign account, a solid starting point to run an expensive statewide campaign in Illinois.

That said, his strong fundraising doesn’t mean he’s necessarily going to run for the Senate. Kirk always has to be concerned about his political standing back home given the Democratic nature of his suburban Chicago district. And he has always been one of the leading GOP fundraisers, raising a similar first-quarter amount ($653,000) two years ago.

If Kirk decides to run for the Senate, he would still start out with less campaign cash than one of the leading Democratic candidates, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Giannoulias raised $1.1 million in six four weeks for his exploratory committee.

The sitting senator, Democrat Roland Burris, has not yet announced his fundraising figures. He also hasn’t announced whether he’s running for election in 2010.