Illinois Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says he cannot, and will not, support Donald Trump. Kirk previously said he would support the
presumptive Republican nominee. But he now says he can’t do that because of Trump’s attacks on Hispanics, women, and people with disabilities.
The Senator isn’t the only prominent Republican in Illinois to turn on Trump. Pat Brady is the former head of the Illinois Republican Party. Pat Brady now works as a Government Affairs Consultant.
He joined WBEZ to talk about Kirk’s decision and the impact it has for the party and for Kirk’s campaign.
Why do you think Senator Kirk changed his mind and decided to come out publicly against Donald Trump?
I think that Sen. Kirk, after watching the campaign, over the last six or seven weeks came to the conclusion that Donald Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be the Commander-in-Chief of our military, hold the nuclear codes to run our economy and do good things for people in this country. I applaud his decision because I don‘t think he has the temperament either and I think a lot of republicans feel that way. So good for Sen. Kirk for leading on this issue and I hope a lot of republicans follow.
Senator Kirk is in what is considered one of the toughest races in the country. How will Kirk’s decision not to endorse Donald Trump affect his campaign against Representative Tammy Duckworth in November?
I think it helps him tremendously in a lot of respects primarily because Donald Trump is tremendously, tremendously unpopular in [Illinois] and he’s very unpopular with women, Hispanics and African Americans. Those are all constituencies you have to win in Illinois in order to win a state-wide election, but it also deflects some of the charges the Duckworth campaign have been making in the last seven or eight days in answering for Donald Trump. So I think yesterday was a great day for Kirk. It’s the Sen. Kirk we all know. He’s been a great senator for the state of Illinois and there’s no reason we shouldn’t send him back to Washington.
You are also not a supporter of Donald Trump. When did you make that decision and what was the deciding factor for you?
I think Donald Trump is a complete buffoon. I don’t think he represents Republican principles whether it’s on tax policy health care national security, national defense, free trade, anything the Republican Party has ever stood for. You’ve got to remember we’re the party of Lincoln. We fought for civil rights both in the civil war and in the ‘60s, and this guy, Donald Trump, making the comments he’s made about Hispanics and women and other people, he doesn’t represent the Republican Party. I never supported him and I’ll never vote for him.
Was it a difficult decision to go against your party’s presumptive nominee?
No, it’s always difficult because I’m a republican and I believe in what the Republican Party should stand for. And I just don’t think Donald Trump represents that. To me it’s probably like Sen. Kirk, put the country first and I think that Donald Trump is very bad for the country.
So, If you’re not voting for Trump, would you like to share who will you vote for?
I don’t know what I’m going to do. I know I will never vote for Donald Trump. I know one thing I’m going to do is help the other candidates, down ticket, like Sen. Kirk.
How are others in the Illinois and the Republican Party navigating this decision on top support Trump?
I think rightfully the republican in this state are focusing on the budget crises. I haven’t had any discussions with elected officials about the presidential campaign. They’re focused on the problems we are having at home, so hopefully we can get something worked out this summer.
Are you worried that candidate Trump will hurt Illinois Republicans in down ballot races?
I talked to some really smart experienced people on the democratic side and they tell me that Donald Trump actually helped republicans in some of the house races in far down state Illinois and so ironically that might be a good thing for us.
Pat Brady is former head of the Illinois Republican Party. He now works as a government affairs consultant for Next Generation Public Affairs, Inc. in Chicago.