Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R) says he plans to avoid a "partisan jihad" with fellow Illinois senator Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program MORE (D) in this year's midterm elections.

Asked whether he would campaign for Durbin's GOP opponent, Jim Oberweis, ahead of the November midterms, Kirk said he wants to protect his relationship with Durbin.

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“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 told the Chicago Sun-Times

Oberweis, a conservative state senator, won the Illinois primary last week with 56 percent of the vote over a more centrist Republican.  

Durbin is expected to easily win reelection this year. Kirk is facing his own competitive reelection bid in the 2016 cycle.

Oberweis helped lead the effort to push out former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady last year over his public support for gay marriage. Brady eventually stepped down, citing his wife's health concerns.

Kirk's aides had reportedly lobbied in support of Brady during the controversy. Kirk, who supports gay marriage, thanked Brady for his service when he left office.