For Illinois senators, an odd public friendship

By By SARA BURNETT

CHICAGO (AP) — The partisan divide runs so deep in Washington, it can be unusual for members of opposing parties to publicly join together for much of anything.

Yet Illinois' senators — Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk — have been known to bring each other birthday cakes and praise one another on the Senate floor.

They say the unusual — and highly public — friendship strengthened after Kirk suffered a stroke last year, and has benefited Illinois.

The partnership has an expedient side. In many states it's almost a political necessity for elected officials to come out swinging to excite their party's most fervent loyalists.

But in Illinois, where elections are often decided by moderate voters in Chicago's suburbs, Durbin and Kirk have clearly concluded the opposite plays better.

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