John Gregory -- Illinois Radio Network

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) will have a primary challenger.

Oswego businessman James Marter is entering the race, claiming Kirk’s stances against defunding Planned Parenthood and for gun control have made him little different than Democrats in the Senate.

Marter has heard it said that Kirk’s moderate positions are what gives him a chance to win a statewide election, but he’d like to see firsthand if voters will back a more conservative candidate like himself.

“That’s kind of the mantra out there, that you have to be a moderate to win in Illinois, but I think we need to run a conservative in Illinois to test that model and see if it’s really true,” Marter said.

Marter says he doesn’t identify as a member of the Tea Party, but he’s taking a similar grassroots approach to his campaign, visiting local Republican organizations around the state. Kirk will almost certainly have the fundraising advantage thanks to being backed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Marter says while he supports Rauner’s policies, he’s not worried about having to work against Rauner’s money in the primary race.

“Mine’s really a grassroots effort, so that’s where it’s started and that’s where it’s really been taking off in the last couple weeks,” Marter said.

Marter says he does hope to debate Kirk at some point during the primary campaign.

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