Rep. Kirk says he will run for Senate

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said for the first time Monday morning that he will run for Senate in 2010.

After a drama-filled two weeks that began with Kirk telling colleagues he would run, then backing off, Kirk told WLS-AM in Chicago that he will run for the Senate, according to The Associated Press. He is scheduled to make an official announcement later today.

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Kirk will be the frontrunner on the Republican side, with state party chairman Andy McKenna saying last week that he would yield to the congressman from the northern Chicago suburbs.

The picture is less clear on the Democratic side, where state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has been running for most of the year and remains the only major candidate.

State Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) have both opted against running. Businessman Chris Kennedy (D) is still considering it.

Giannoulias immediately hit Kirk Monday morning by trying to attach him to former President Bush and the economy left by his administration.

Giannoulias said that a choice between he and Kirk would be between “the reckless Bush-Cheney fiscal policies Kirk supported” or a “move forward to fundamentally change our economy and create the next generation of good jobs here in Illinois.”

Republicans feel they have a good chance of winning in Illinois thanks to the problems of Democratic former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as well as Kirk’s past electoral success in a tough district.

Giannoulias raised $670,000 in second-quarter campaign finance reports filed last week, while Kirk raised $580,000 for his House campaign committee — all of which can be transferred to a Senate account.