Alexandra Jaffe, CNN, April 17, 2015
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk says he won’t talk about race anymore after his comments last week that “we drive faster” through black communities sparked criticism from Democrats.
Kirk made the comments in an interview with the Peoria Journal-Star, when asked his thoughts on encouraging innovation in Illinois. Kirk touted his efforts to foster an “African-American entrepreneurial class,” and suggested Illinois could someday be home to a “class of African-American billionaires.”
“That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through,” he added.
Kirk is seen as Republicans’ most vulnerable incumbent this cycle, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee wasted little time in pouncing on the comments, calling them “offensive.”
“Panicked over his dismal reelection prospects, it appears that no bloc of Illinois voters is safe from the over-the-top and offensive rhetoric that seems to spew weekly from Mark Kirk’s mouth,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC national press secretary.
Weiner added that Kirk owes the state a “barrel of apologies.”
On Wednesday, the senator told the Chicago Sun-Times that he’d avoid future controversy by avoiding discussions of race altogether.
“I would say that whenever a targeted member talks about race or ethnicity, it is impossible for him to get it right. So I’ll leave it at that,” Kirk said.