Clinton Benghazi hearing will put suburban lawmakers in spotlight

The announcement this week that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear before the congressional Benghazi committee this fall stands to put two local lawmakers at the center of an important hearing as the presidential race heats up.

Of the 11 members of that committee, two are from the suburbs: Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.

Clinton was secretary of state during the 2012 attacks in Libya, and she also could be questioned at the hearing about her use of a private email account while holding that post. The Oct. 22 hearing is a little more than a year before Americans elect their next president - and Clinton is aiming for a spot on the ballot.

The Benghazi hearing will be open to the public.

Roskam says he's looking forward to questioning Clinton and for the State Department to stop "stonewalling our investigation."

"Significant questions remain regarding Secretary Clinton's role in these events, including, but not limited to, why Ambassador (J. Christopher) Stevens' repeated requests for additional security were ignored, why our response to the assault was completely inadequate, and why the administration misled the American people by blaming the terrorist attack on a YouTube video," he said in a statement.

Another take

Duckworth said the committee should honor those who died in the Benghazi attacks, including the ambassador, by "conducting the committee's work in a respectful and bipartisan manner."

"Unfortunately, this committee is risking its credibility by stretching out this investigation and calling witnesses who already appeared before Congress multiple times," she said in a statement. "I hope that this hearing stays away from politics and partisanship and focuses on how to keep our public servants safe."

Is there a way to set a DVR to record C-SPAN a few months in advance?

Changing campaigns

Duckworth is in the process of running for her party's nomination for U.S. Senate next year, and the race to replace her in the Northwest suburban 8th Congressional District continues to change.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, withdrew from the race on Wednesday and his former primary opponents praised him on his way out.

"I thank Senator Tom Cullerton for his continued service to the community and wish him and his family only the best," Raja Krishnamoorthi said.

State Sen. Mike Noland, an Elgin Democrat who is considering a run said: "I know that there are many great things ahead for Tom, and I wish him the best of luck in his re-election campaign."

Walsh still thinking

Conservative radio host and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh says he's still considering whether to make a primary bid for Senate against Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

Walsh told us this week he'd make the decision "very quickly."

When reminded that he said in February he'd decide "in the next month or two," Walsh set a deadline.

"A decision most definitely will be made before Labor Day," he said.

Kirk has faced heat in recent weeks for public statements such as calling Sen. Lindsey Graham a "bro with no ho" into a hot microphone.

Walsh also has faced criticism for public statements, but he said he's weighing financial support and making contact with other Republicans as he considers the race.

The Illinois Republican Party this week made clear it's backing Kirk after failed candidate for governor and businessman Ron Gidwitz retracted a statement he made to Crain's Chicago Business that the Highland Park Republican should drop out of the race.

"Sen. Mark Kirk has my unwavering support," party Chairman Tim Schneider of Bartlett said in a statement. "His record of independent leadership is exactly what Illinois needs."

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