Hey Sen. Mark Kirk: Illinois, Not Norquist, First

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Woven into the story of the fiscal cliff fight is Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge that many congressional Republicans have signed, promising not to agree to tax hikes. But do constituents want their representatives to compromise or stick to their vows? Here's one voter's take.

COMMENTARY | I was dismayed to find Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., on the list of signers of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge. Kirk ran as a moderate Republican and, until he suffered a stroke in January of this year, he generally voted as one.

Poised to return to Congress in January, the question isn't whether I or any other citizen of Illinois would vote for him if he breaks that pledge. The real question is whether he'd be re-elected if he keeps it.

Of the 11 congressional pledge-signers in Illinois, four lost outright to their Democratic challengers. One member, Tim Johnson, is retiring, and Don Manzullo lost to Adam Kinzinger in the Republican primary after redistricting. Peter Roskam -- of the notoriously conservative northwest suburbs -- is the only signer from the Chicagoland area to survive re-election in 2012. The remaining Republicans on the list are all from western, central and southern Illinois.

You cannot win a state-wide election without support from Chicago or its surrounding suburbs.

Signing the Norquist pledge feels like a betrayal to the electorate. It is a promise to honor Norquist over the constituents and the good of the nation. Rescinding that pledge isn't breaking a "promise;" it's remembering the promise made to voters in the first place.

I can't say, for sure, that I would vote for Mark Kirk if he rescinds the pledge, but I can say, with certainty, I will not vote to re-elect him if he doesn't.

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