Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is projected to win a Senate seat in Illinois over incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), according Fox News and MSNBC, putting Democrats one step closer to their goal of regaining a Senate majority.
Duckworth besting the embattled Kirk in historically blue Illinois was consistent with polling going in to the race. TPM’s PollTracker Average had Duckworth up a mammoth 18.7 points on Election Day:
The race between Kirk and Duckworth has been a highly-publicized and at times ugly battle.
Kirk had publicly feuded with his party’s nominee Donald Trump, rescinding his endorsement and running a negative ad about the real estate mogul. Trump, in turn, knocked Kirk’s low polling numbers, saying that he is “not doing so well” but “that’s his problem,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The incumbent senator has also publicly feuded with Duckworth, a U.S. Army veteran who lost both legs in the Iraq war, as he questioned her family’s military service and mocked her mixed-race background during a debate last month.
Tammy Duckworth is a vet who lost both legs in Iraq. Her family has served since the Revolutionary War. And yet… pic.twitter.com/DHd3kWrUsN
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) October 28, 2016
“My family has served this nation in uniform, going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth said. “I’m a daughter of the American Revolution. I’ve bled for this nation. But I still want to be there in the Senate when the drums of war sound. Because people are quick to sound the drums of war, and I want to be there to say this is what it costs, this is what you’re asking us to do. And if that’s the case, I’ll go. Families like mine are the ones that bleed first.”
“I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk replied sarcastically, in a comment that may have been the final nail in the coffin of his Senate career.
Duckworth’s win is a big get for the Democrats, who need to pick up four seats to regain the majority if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and five should Donald Trump become president. While most seats up for grabs look as if they could go either party’s way, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) appears poised to take back the seat he lost to Ron Johnson in 2010 as well.