Sen. Mark KirkMark KirkGOP senator defends funding Planned Parenthood Why Qatar Is a problem for Washington Taking the easy layup: Why brain cancer patients depend on it MORE (R) says he plans to avoid a "partisan jihad" with fellow Illinois senator Dick DurbinDick DurbinGraham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate Senate Dems set principles for potential budget negotiation Dem senator: GOP's healthcare approach will 'devastate Medicaid' 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.

“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.