News & Election Videos

May 26, 2009

A Kirk alternative?

In Illinois, Republicans have been anxiously waiting for Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to decide whether he’s running for the Senate. If the popular, suburban Chicago congressman enters the race, strategists on both sides of the aisle expect the Illinois Senate race to be highly competitive.

But, as Kirk takes his time in making a decision, the party is beginning to consider an alternative plan.  And a new name is now being floated – Steve Preston, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary in the final year of President Bush’s administration.

Preston is a former executive vice president at ServiceMaster and served as an administrator at the Small Business Administration before appointed to President Bush's Cabinet in April 2008..

He also has experience in taking over for an ethically-tarnished predecessor. At HUD, he succeeded Alphonso Jackson, who resigned while under federal investigation into whether he steered housing contracts to his friends.

It's still unclear how serious of a candidate Preston would be.  He has never run for elective office, with his entire career in the business sector.  But Republicans have a thin bench of prospective statewide candidates in Illinois, and if Kirk passes on the race, a well-funded outsider with Cabinet-level experience might be a necessary alternative.