Duckworth: Volunteers the difference in 8th District race
Just hours after declaring victory over Congressman Joe Walsh in the 8th Congressional District, Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates was up and at 'em, greeting supporters at the Schaumburg Metra Station Wednesday morning.
The 10-percentage-point victory over the McHenry Tea Partyer was especially sweet for the Iraq War veteran, who narrowly lost a congressional race to Republican Peter Roskam in 2006. Her new 8th Congressional District contains much of the territory that supported her in that unsuccessful attempt.
The double-amputee Purple Heart recipient promised to be a voice for bipartisanship and to meet challenges head on, as she says she "always has."
After greeting the early morning commuters and catching a quick nap, Duckworth was back at her campaign office in Rolling Meadows, thanking and greeting about 30 of the 700 supporters who helped her in the final weeks of the campaign.
While Duckworth personally raised more money than Walsh during each quarter of this election cycle, SuperPAC cash heavily bolstered his campaign.
It was her volunteers, Duckworth said, that ultimately made the difference.
"I knew grass-roots beats everything. Getting people to step up and take command of their lives," Duckworth said. "They were here all the time."
Duckworth said both she and Walsh are dedicated to making the "handoff" between them in January as smooth as possible.
Walsh frequently described himself as the "most accessible congressman on the planet," hosting meeting after meeting with constituents back in the district.
Duckworth pledged to be similarly accessible and said she plans to return home to the suburbs after votes each week in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps, she laughed, she'd put a spin on Walsh's "Cup of Joe with Joe" sessions, calling them the "Weekly waddle" or the "Duck Coop."
"I love laying my head down in my own pillow in my own house more than anything," she said.
Walsh spent the past two years sleeping in his office, but Duckworth said she will likely keep living quarters in Washington, D.C., noting it's "not easy for me" dealing with prostheses, crutches and a wheelchair.
As she begins her congressional term, she says, she is focused on finding folks she can work with on both sides of the aisle on "issues that matter" to the people of her district -- transportation, health care and education, among them.
"We have a lot of members who represent the suburbs of Chicago from both sides of the aisle. We're going to have a lot of shared issues," she said. "We need to come together and make that happen."
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