WASHINGTON--Freshman Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is positioning herself for a leadership role, launching a political action committee to boost other Democrats running for the House as her profile -- and buzz -- are growing.
Papers creating Duckworth's "Perimeter PAC" were sent to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, with the name a play on the basic military responsibility of guarding a perimeter -- duty the wounded Iraq war vet, a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard -- did as a young soldier.
One of the first steps ambitious lawmakers take, whether aiming to become leaders or to run for higher office, is to form what are called "leadership" PACs, a pot of money used mainly to bankroll other candidates -- a career bolstering move.
No matter the party, it's impossible to wrangle a leadership role in Congress without taking on major fund-raising chores. For the 2012 election cycle, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the House chief deputy majority whip, a top leadership spot, contributed $466,605 to GOP candidates from his leadership PAC.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday for three fund-raisers and a series of finance meetings for her Senate war chest and her "Off the Sidelines" PAC, which Gillibrand is using to boost Democratic female candidates, distributing about $1 million in the 2012 cycle.
An initial focus for Duckworth's "Perimeter" will be to help Democratic Illinois House members who may face bruising 2014 contests: Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, Bill Enyart and Cheri Bustos.
Keeping those seats is a priority of the House political operation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. President Barack Obama returns to Chicago May 29 for fund-raisers to benefit the DCCC.
Duckworth already is on a fasttrack to be a player, helped by the unusually high profile she brought to Congress: She is one of two women combat veterans, a double amputee, an Asian American and a former Veterans Administration official.
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appointed Duckworth to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee -- a key perch. However, it comes with the expectation that Duckworth will raise $250,000 for the DCCC. She is also on the DCCC candidate recruitment committee.
Now, on the buzz front: On Tuesday, Duckworth will be in New York to be honored by the Auburn Theological Seminary. And a University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs analysis of news transcripts from seven broadcast and radio national outlets found Duckworth the most-mentioned House freshman between the Jan. 3 swearing-in and Feb. 3.
Duckworth has her priorities straight, even as she seeks to elevate herself on the national stage. She's turned down invites for Sunday shows to return to the district, the most recent, canceling an April 21 booking on NBC's "Meet the Press" to be in the district to deal with the flooding disaster.