In 2012 she ran for the Illinois’ 8th congressional district U.S. Congress seat against a man who — although he never served a day in the military — had the cojones to disparage her heroic, combat service claiming that she — Tammy Duckworth — was not a “true hero.”
Her opponent, then-Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), had the audacity to say — after suggesting that President Obama was only elected president because he’s an African-American — “Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about.”
But Walsh couldn’t stop himself.
He criticized Tammy Duckworth’s military service in a March 2102 interview with Politico: “What else has she done?” he asked rhetorically. “Female, wounded veteran … ehhh.”
This about a double amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq when insurgents hit her helicopter with an RPG in 2004.
About a brave woman who “chose to become a helicopter pilot because few other combat roles [were] open to women. [Who] served for more than 20 years, earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel receiving multiple military awards, including a Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and an Army Commendation Medal.”
Well, sufficient to say that Tammy Duckworth beat Joe Walsh, became the first disabled female veteran elected to the House of Representatives and has been serving her district, her country, as honorably as she did during her 20 years of military service.
Today, the same woman officially announced that she is running for the United States Senate in 2016.
“I look forward to visiting your community soon, and if you elect me as Illinois senator, I will fight my heart out to represent you with honor and integrity,” Duckworth said in a You Tube video published by The Hill (Below).
Duckworth will be attempting to unseat Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), also a decorated Naval officer who served, among other, during Operation Northern Watch over Iraq and in three reserve deployments in Afghanistan, in what The Hill predicts will be “one of 2016’s most high-profile Senate battles.”
Like Duckworth, Kirk also has physical disabilities. He “has been battling back from a massive stroke in 2012. He uses a cane or a wheelchair to get around on Capitol Hill,” according to The Hill.
Although Kirk has made a couple of controversial military service related claims, he has had the integrity and courage to clarify and apologize for them.
As is sadly the case in so many political races, accusations will fly back and forth.
Unfortunately, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has already started, as The Hill points out:
“Congresswoman Duckworth is a partisan politician who got her start in politics as a result of Rod Blagojevich’s political maneuvers,” NRSC Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement, referencing Illinois’s disgraced former governor who went to prison on corruption charges.
“Unlike Congresswoman Duckworth, who has put her extreme policies in Washington before Illinois families by voting with Nancy Pelosi 92% of the time, Mark Kirk has been an independent voice,” Bozek added.
“Senator Kirk’s record of accomplishment and thoughtful independence will outshine any candidate that emerges from the Democrat primary in Illinois.”
This time however, unlike the 2012 race for the House seat, military service should not be a (negative) issue between these two veterans.
Good luck, Tammy!
Lead photo: Tammy Duckworth joining former Senator Cleland and Colonel Gadson for the “Debt of Honor” Screening on March 19, 2015.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.