Tammy Duckworth May Challenge Mark Kirk for Illinois Senate

The Democrats see a golden opportunity to retake a seat lost to a Republican in 2010.

on November 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.

on November 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In the Democratic party's quest to regain control of the U.S. Senate, the seat currently held by Illinois Republican Mark Kirk is a prime target, and a leading candidate to oust him from it is Representative Tammy Duckworth. 

Duckworth, the Iraq War veteran and double amputee who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, said Monday that she was considering taking on Kirk next year in the heavily Democratic state. 

"I'm humbled by the encouragement that I'm receiving to run for the Senate," Duckworth said, the Chicago Tribune reported, "and I think it's pretty clear that people are looking for a change, and I'm going to explore the possibility. I'm ready to really explore the possibility of a run."

Kirk, who was narrowly elected in 2010 over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in the race for the seat once held by Barack Obama, suffered a major stroke in 2012, and has been undergoing extensive rehabilitation after undergoing brain surgery. While largely staying out of the public eye since his stroke, Kirk has been insistent about running for re-election. 

"No frickin way I am retiring," Kirk told CQ Roll Call in November. "With all this rehab, for me just to walk was a huge effort. I had to relearn how to walk again after the stroke. And all the rehab and all the effort shows the mental determination times 10 to keep serving." 

In a presidential year, and with the prospect of Hillary Clinton uniting Democrats at the polls, the party sees Kirk's seat as a likely pickup.

Duckworth, who is on maternity leave after giving birth to a daughter in November, will return to Congress in mid-February. 

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