Senate candidate and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Friday came out in support of Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirk's backing of Kagan comes after weeks of not taking a stand on her nominaion even as reporters pressed and his Democratic opponent Alexi Giannoulias took aim at Kirk for not lending his support to the nominee.

In the contest for President Obama's former Senate seat, Kirk needs to find a way to appeal to independents and centrist Democrats in the blue state.

Of Kagan, Kirk offered tepid praise in a statement.

"Ms. Kagan appears to be modest and thoughtful not because she expected this nomination but because she is modest and thoughtful," Kirk said. "Under the Constitution, only the president can make this nomination and Solicitor General Kagan is one of the more careful nominees he could have picked."

In his statement, Kirk quoted Alexander Hamilton, who in the Federalist Papers wrote of the Senate's role, "the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though in general a silent operation."

Kirk noted that recent justices have won confirmation with bipartisan majorities, though he left out the vote count on Justices Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor, which were considerably closer than those of Justices Ginsburg, Kennedy, Scalia and Breyer.