Kirk comments secretly recorded, made public
October 8, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk is drawing some criticism for a remark he made to fellow Republicans about the upcoming election.
Kirk did not know he was being taped and certainly did not expect the recording to end up on YouTube. Now, Democrats are demanding that Kirk explain himself and apologize to African-American voters.
The Kirk campaign confirms the congressman was secretly taped this week while telling state Republican leaders about his hiring of a voter integrity squad to concentrate on four regions that happen to be areas populated by large numbers of African-Americans who vote heavily Democratic.
"These are lawyers and other people that will be deployed in key, vulnerable precincts, for example, South and West sides of Chicago, Rockford, Metro East, where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat".
"For him to insinuate that there is some vote fraud going on in these communities is just an insult to the hundreds and hundreds of people who serve as election judges on elections. I find it disgraceful and insulting," said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle.
Lyle, a Democratic Committee member and an Alexi Giannoulias supporter, and others were offended by Kirk's use of the verb "jigger" when talking about regions heavily populated by black voters.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says "jigger" does mean "to alter, re-arrange, or manipulate" and has been used by many politicians to describe election fraud.
"The problem I had is that it sounds so much like another word," Rev. Albert Tyson said.
Kirk, who is in a tight race for the U.S. Senate with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, says he is offended that anyone would think he would use a word that offends African-Americans.
"I'm actually offended that they would say that. I think that every vote should be counted and that we need to make sure that it's a free and a election," Kirk said.
Dictionaries also say the word "jig" has been used as the short form of a racial slur against black people.
"He said what he meant. He may not have meant to say it in that manner, but he said it, and it's offensive," Lyle said.
"Congressman Kirk is not a racist," said Attorney Richard Boykin.
Boykin, a Kirk supporter, says the Democrats are playing the race card in desperation.
"I think it's another failed attempt by the Giannoulias campaign to sort of shift and distract the voters from the real issues," Boykin said.
The campaign of Democrat Alexi Giannoulias would have no comment on the Kirk comments.
The election is 25 days away.
politics, charles thomas
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