GOP Base, Leadership (and Limbaugh) Shun Rep Who Voted for Climate Bill

Chairman Steele withdraws support for Rep. Kirk over cap-and-trade vote.

This past June, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) — who is now running for Senate — was one of the eight Republicans to cast a vote in favor of Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation. But ever since Kirk began taking heat from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, he has been trying desperately to backtrack from his vote.

Kirk has since offered contradictory explanations for his shifting stance. “I voted for [cap-and-trade] because it was in the narrow interests of my congressional district,” he explained recently. But at the time of his vote, Kirk cited “national security” considerations, “arguing that a modest carbon tax would spur development of domestic energy sources and reduce dependence on oil controlled by Saudi sheiks and Venezuelan dictators.”

Now, RNC Chairman Michael Steele is feeling the heat from the right-wing base as well, and is pulling a flip-flop of his own. The Chicago Daily Observer reports that Steele is withdrawing his support from Kirk:

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has withdrawn his sole endorsement for Mark Kirk for the U. S. Senate, recognizing that the candidacy of Patrick Hughes has drawn major support from Illinois Republicans: thus Steele’s RNC is neutral…a distinct victory for Hughes.

Steele has previously referred to Kirk as a rising star and someone he would support. “I’m so excited about Mark Kirk and his race,” Steele said in a radio interview. “We were all kind of sitting around with bated breath as he was making his decision, a very personal decision, a family decision, to run for the Senate.”

“You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point,” Steele told Glenn Beck in February. This of course remains an ongoing challenge for conservatives.

Faiz Shakir is the Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor of and The Progress Report.
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