According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth plans to announce on Monday, that she will be running to defeat Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk in the 2016 election. Duckworth represents Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, which includes the Chicago suburbs of Schaumburg and Elgin. She was first elected to Congress in 2012, when she handily defeated Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh 54-45, in one of the nation’s most closely watched and expensive House races of that cycle.
Duckworth is a combat veteran who received a purple heart after being wounded in the Iraq War. She served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot. Duckworth lost both her legs, after the helicopter she was flying was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in November of 2004.
Duckworth’s entry into the race makes Illinois a strong pickup opportunity for the Democrats. Republican Mark Kirk is an inviting target as he is a freshman GOP Senator in a Democratic-leaning state, who narrowly won in the Republican wave election of 2010.
Sensing his vulnerability, Kirk has tried to discourage a strong Democratic challenger. In November, his desperation showed when he gave a patronizing warning to Duckworth, arguing that she should not challenge him. Kirk made his condescending remarks to a reporter for The Hill, in November 2014, when he stated:
She has a very bright future ahead of her. After only one term … you know, when you run for the Senate, you have to give up your congressional seat. If she gives up her congressional seat and loses against me, that’s a very sad ending to a bright career. To fight and lose a Senate race against Kirk is a terrible start to a career.
Of course, it is fairly obvious that Mark Kirk’s real concern was that Duckworth poses a threat to end his political career.
Duckworth may not have the Democratic primary field to herself. Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) and Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) are also rumored to be interested in entering the race. Like Duckworth, each of them would be formidable candidates. Whether or not Duckworth faces serious opposition in the Democratic primary, one thing is clear. Republican Senator Mark Kirk is in serious jeopardy of losing his Senate seat in the 2016 election.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.