Durbin backs Duckworth for Senate
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he'll back U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates in her Democratic primary bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in 2016.
Durbin made the announcement in a fundraising email Thursday as Duckworth faces at least one challenger in her own party, former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp.
Durbin helped talk Duckworth into her first run for Congress in 2006, so his support against a political newcomer might not be a surprise. His fundraising pitch focuses on her recovery from losing her legs in Iraq in 2004.
"The incumbent in this race is already running television ads -- 18 months before the election!" the email to supporters says. "Tammy needs our help to catch up."
Kirk mostly stayed out of Durbin's re-election campaign in 2014 and told the Daily Herald last year he'd hope Durbin would say out of his 2016 bid. On Thursday, he was critical of the endorsement.
"Dick Durbin is once again choosing political party over Illinois," Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl said. "By handpicking Senator Kirk's opponent, he abandons the bipartisan partnership that they have cultivated on behalf of Illinois."
Kirk's ad focuses on his own recovery from a 2012 stroke and his drive to win re-election next year. Durbin worked closely with Kirk's office after the Highland Park Republican's stroke to keep it moving.