Kirk reverses, will campaign for Oberweis against Durbin

Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkSenate rivals gear up for debates The Trail 2016: Trump seizes on Charlotte violence Iran president hints at future prisoner swaps, cash settlements with US MORE (R-Ill.) said Tuesday he will in fact campaign for Republican Senate candidate Jim Oberweis, despite earlier refusing because of his relationship with incumbent Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSpending bill doesn't include Cruz internet fight Overnight Tech: GOP says internet fight isn't over | EU chief defends Apple tax ruling | Feds roll out self-driving car guidelines | Netflix's China worries Reid blasts Cruz over internet fight MORE (D). 

“I will be campaigning for Jim Oberweis,” Kirk told the Illinois Radio Network.

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Kirk said at the end of March that he would not be campaigning for the Illinois state senator challenging Durbin, who is seeking his fourth term.

“I’m going to be protecting my relationship with Dick and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership to both pull together for Illinois,” he said then. 

Kirk and Durbin have an unusually strong relationship. Durbin helped greet Kirk on the steps when he returned to the Capitol last year after a stroke.

Kirk is now changing his tune on Oberweis but says his standing with Durbin won’t be harmed.

“He and I have a very good relationship," Kirk said on Tuesday. "He expects that in a general election that I would be backing the Republican candidate.”

Oberweis, a chairman of a dairy company, is a long-shot to beat Durbin, who had a 14-point lead in a Rasmussen poll last week.

Kirk himself is likely to be a Democratic target in blue Illinois in 2016.