By Ed Diokno
As expected in the Illinois primary last night , five-term House member Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) has become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. Her victory in the Illinois primary last night sets the stage for a heated contest versus the incumbent, Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.
Duckworth won 63% of the vote with the balance split between former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp and Napoleon Harris, a state senator and former NFL player in the Illinois primary.
The already contentious race between Duckworth and Kirk has been going on informally for months. Democrats see Kirk’s seat as very vulnerable as one they can turn blue by the popular Duckworth, a Thai American whose mother is from Thailand and of Chinese ancestry. Her father is White.
If Duckworth wins in November, she could change the balance in the Senate and break the logjam Republicans have put up against Obama proposals and could be a factor in deciding who could be the next Supreme Court justice.
RELATED: GOP removes tasteless tweet vs. double amputee
Last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee went after Duckworth tweeting that she “didn’t stand up for veterans.” The GOP quickly removed the tweet after the committee was heavily criticized. Duckworth, who lost both legs during a combat mission in Iraq, fired back with a long list of the bills she sponsored on behalf of veterans.
Prior to the primary, the GOP was already running TV ads against Duckworth.
Both Kirk and Duckworth have made compelling personal stories part of their campaign. Kirk suffered a near-fatal stroke in 2012, but returned to work in Washington a year later following intense rehabilitation. Duckworth, who grew up poor and attended college with help from federal grants, is the first veteran double amputee to serve in Congress.
(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)
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