Illinois senator Mark Kirk has reportedly made a fundraising appeal that suggests First Lady Michelle Obama may run against him for the U.S. Senate in 2016, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m not one to believe rumors or engage in political gossip, but when it comes to defending the Illinois Senate seat that I’m honored to hold, I take all potential threats seriously,” Kirk wrote in a letter sent out earlier this month, according to the Sun-Times. “The press and rumor mills ponder the ‘will she or won’t she’ question with regard to Michelle Obama . . . and the circumstances (and denials) are reminiscent of 1999 when First Lady Hillary Clinton was the subject of whirlwind speculation about a run for the United States Senate.”
Kirk may have chosen to mention Michelle Obama because no serious Democratic opponent has yet emerged: The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet reports that no Illinois Democrat has expressed interest in running against Kirk, though she hears U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth often mentioned as someone who could take on the incumbent Republican. In the meantime, Sweet adds, Kirk may need to focus on preparing for a challenge from his right in the Republican primary.