The decision to run for re-election wasn’t a hard one for U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.). Despite suffering a stroke in 2012 that kept him away from the Senate for a year, Kirk says he never had any doubts about running for re-election in 2016. What did change was how he approaches his work. “After my stroke, I very much looked at the basics,” Kirk said. “I looked at my ID card. It said ‘Mark Kirk, representing Illinois.’ I thought to myself, ‘I need to focus solely on that job.’”
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While some have labeled Kirk as among the more vulnerable senators in 2016, Kirk believes he has developed a winning formula for Republicans to win in Illinois by advocating for conservative fiscal policies and being a social moderate. No Republican U.S. senator from Illinois has served more than a single term since Charles Percy, who was in the Senate from 1967 to 1985.