Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkBiden's relationship with 'Joe-Joe' Manchin hits the rocks Let's fix America's accounting problem — starting with Build Back Better Duckworth announces reelection bid 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 DurbinClyburn says he 'wholeheartedly' endorses Biden's voting rights remarks GOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech Sinema, Manchin curb Biden's agenda MORE (D).
“I will be campaigning for Jim Oberweis,” Kirk told the Illinois Radio Network.
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.