Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois has apologized after he was caught on a live microphone calling Senate colleague, 2016 presidential hopeful and bachelor Lindsey Graham a "bro with no ho."
Kirk, who is seeking re-election in 2016, apologized Thursday through a spokeswoman for using a word that's disparaging to women.
His remarks were captured on a live microphone as a Senate panel conducted a roll call vote in Washington. Graham, of South Carolina, is a lifelong bachelor who's recently joked he could have a "rotating first lady" if elected to the White House.
"That's what we'd say on the..." Kirk went on to say. The rest of the sentence was muffled, but he seems to say "South Side," a reference to a swath of heavily minority Chicago neighborhoods that stretches south of downtown.
Kirk lives in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.
Kirk told Politico on Thursday that he regretted the remarks, but didn't elaborate. He later apologized through a spokeswoman.
"Senator Kirk was joking with his colleague and immediately apologized to anyone offended by his remark," spokeswoman Danielle Varallo said in an email to The Associated Press.
But the comments blew up on Twitter and immediately drew criticism from fellow lawmakers.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat running for Kirk's seat, said Kirk needs to improve his record on women. In a fundraising email for Duckworth, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky deemed it "sexist."
"Senator Kirk's 'joke' is as offensive as it is unfunny, and he should apologize, personally and immediately," Kaitlin Fahey, Duckworth's campaign manager said in a statement.
It's not the first time Kirk's comments have raised eyebrows.
In 2013, Kirk was harshly criticized by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago when he called for the arrest of up to 18,000 Gangster Disciple members. Afterward, as part of a pledge to fully understand the link between gangs and violence, he agreed to go on a police ride-along through the South Side.