Tammy Duckworth made it official on Wednesday morning, launching a run for Congress from the north suburban Illinois 8th congressional district, carved out by Illinois Democrats to give Democrats a boost.
Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war veteran, resigned last month as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Veteran's Administration--an appointee of President Obama--and returned to her home in Hoffman Estates. She will file papers with the Federal Election Commission later this week.
"My father served in Vietnam, my brother served in the Coast Guard, and my husband continues to serve on active duty because our family believes in this great nation. There are plenty of folks in Washington who serve political ideology and personal ambition. I want to continue serving our county," she said in a statement.
She added, "It's time to tell John Boehner, Karl Rove and the tea party crowd that you can't balance the budget on the backs of seniors. You can't serve multi-national corporations first and American families last. And you won't build a better future by tearing down our economy brick by brick and shipping it overseas."
This will be one of the most watched House races in the nation--as Democrats focus on Illinois--hoping to erase GOP House 2010 gains in a state where Democrats will expect to get some help from Obama's coat-tails.
Duckworth lost a 2006 House bid to Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) in the current 6th district. She ran with the backing of then Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Dick Durbin, now Mayor Rahm Emanuel--who then chaired the House political operation--and a formidable national fund-raising network. My over view column on Duckworth gearing up for a 2012 House race is here.
There is no Democratic incumbent in the new 8th District. The current 8th is represented by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) who has not said yet what district he will run from in 2012. Duckworth for now faces a Democratic primary with Raja Krishnamoorthi, who lost a Democratic primary bid for comptroller last year.
Raja Krishnamoorthi's Statement released Wednesday afternoon:
"I respect Tammy Duckworth and any others who would enter the race. That said, I am focused on the issues that matter to voters, such as strengthening our economy, protecting programs like Medicare, and listening to the concerns of the hardworking taxpayers in the 8th Congressional District of Illinois. The outpouring of support for our campaign, as seen by the more than $400,000 raised in 5 and a half weeks, shows voters are looking for a candidate who's been living in the district raising their family and who has the private and public sector experience necessary to strengthen our economy." END UPDATE
Last month, I asked him if he would step aside for Duckworth, a better known candidate and the answer for now is no.
"I'm in this race," he told me. "I have great respect for her and other potential candidates, but I am in this race and what I need to focus on are the issues voters care about right now, such as the economy and the middle class, medicare and public education I also am focusing on what it it would take for me to win."
A House member does not have to live in a district to represent it in Washington. Illinois Republicans, because of the Democratic-drawn Illinois remap--are potentially pitted against each other, while each of the incumbent Illinois Democrats have been given their own turf.
Click below for Duckworth release....
Democrat Tammy Duckworth to file papers for Congress.
Obama's Asst. Secretary of VA wants "to continue serving our country."
Iraq war veteran and President Obama's former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth will file papers this week with the Federal Election Commission to run for Congress from Illinois' new 8th District.
"My father served in Vietnam, my brother served in the Coast Guard, and my husband continues to serve on active duty because our family believes in this great nation. There are plenty of folks in Washington who serve political ideology and personal ambition. I want to continue serving our country," said Duckworth.
Duckworth, 43, was working at Rotary International while pursuing a Ph.D. at Northern Illinois University when she was mobilized in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployed to Iraq in 2004. On November 12, 2004, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter Duckworth was co-piloting. The resulting explosion cost Tammy both of her legs and part of the use of her right arm. As a result of injuries sustained in combat, Tammy was awarded the Purple Heart.
After her recovery, Duckworth continued to serve our country as a Major in the Illinois Army National Guard and as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, where she led ground-breaking programs to alleviate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, improve traumatic brain injury screening and reduce Veteran homelessness.
In 2009, President Obama nominated Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, a choice confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Duckworth made it clear she won't back down to Republicans in Washington.
"It's time to tell John Boehner, Karl Rove and the tea party crowd that you can't balance the budget on the backs of seniors. You can't serve multi-national corporations first and American families last. And you won't build a better future by tearing down our economy brick by brick and shipping it overseas," said Duckworth.
Duckworth is considered one of the Democrats top recruits in 2012. About half of the new 8th District is made up of the portion of the current 6th District where Duckworth beat Republican Peter Roskam by over 1,200 votes in 2006. She was one of the top fundraisers in the country that year, raising more than $4.5 million from over 24,000 contributors. She and her husband, Major Bryan Bowlsbey, live in their home in Hoffman Estates, which was rebuilt for wheelchair access in 2005 by her fellow Soldiers and friends.