St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Editorial: For U.S. Senate in Illinois, Democrat Tammy Duckworth
In Mark Kirk and Tammy Duckworth, Illinois voters had two solid candidates to choose between in the Nov. 8 election for U.S. Senate. But on Thursday night, Kirk embarrassed himself with a racist comment of Trumpian proportions.
Debating in Springfield, Ill., Duckworth cited her family’s long history of military service. Her father was a Marine captain when he met her Thai-Chinese mother in Bangkok, where Tammy Duckworth was born. The Duckworths trace their military history back to the Revolutionary War.
Tammy Duckworth called herself a “daughter of the American Revolution” who has “bled for this nation.”
Kirk shot back: “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.” He later apologized. In a tight race with exceedingly high stakes, Kirk failed the test of good judgment and verbal restraint.
Even before that, our choice was Duckworth, 48, a two-term Democratic U.S. House member from Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Her views on tax and economic issues are more sound and workable than Kirk’s. Duckworth’s pro-working class views grew from a riveting personal story.
Educated in Hawaii and proud of the family tradition, she joined the ROTC in graduate school and later trained as a combat helicopter pilot. While deployed in Iraq in 2004, her Black Hawk was shot down. She lost both legs and suffered severe wounds to her right arm.
Undaunted, she finished her doctoral work and entered public service, working for veterans at the state and national levels. Her two terms in the House have been marked by strong support for veterans, the military and progressive social issues.
Kirk also has known hardship. The 57-year-old Republican moderate, a lawyer, served five terms in the House from Chicago’s northern suburbs. After his Senate election in 2010, he suffered a stroke that sidelined him for all of 2012.
His mobility and speech aren’t back to 100 percent, but he says his experience left him “probably a better senator than I was before.”
Though he votes with the GOP Senate majority on most economic issues, he breaks on many social issues. He boasts of an “F-minus” rating from the National Rifle Association. He favors immigration reform and a path to citizenship. He is pro-choice and pro-gay rights. He says he believes a president’s Supreme Court nominees deserve hearings and confirmation votes. And he was well ahead of the GOP pack in refusing to support Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
Duckworth is skeptical of trade deals and calls herself a “fair-trader,” not a free-trader. She says jobs and the affordability of college education are top priorities, but “veterans are my life’s work.”
It’s hard to argue with either candidate. But Duckworth is more deserving of the Senate seat.
Also running are Libertarian Kenton McMillen and the Green Party’s Scott Summers.
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