Kirk, Duckworth clash over Syrian refugees
Republican U.S. Sen Mark Kirk has begun airing his first TV ad of the 2016 campaign to try to split with Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth over how to handle Syrian refugees.
The spot hits cable statewide even as both candidates for Kirk's seat still face March primary contests.
It says Kirk, of Highland Park, "opposes more Syrian refugees until it can be done safely" and airs a Duckworth comment that she'd support up to 200,000 refugees coming to the U.S.
"ISIS disguised as Syrian refugees attack Paris," the ad starts. "Next target? The U.S."
Duckworth's campaign responded by trying to tie Kirk to presidential candidate Donald Trump and saying "leadership comes through strength, not fear."
"Now, like Donald Trump, he's appealing to base xenophobia, sowing fear of refugees in the midst of one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time," spokesman Matt McGrath said.
The issue has become politically volatile after the Paris attacks last month, with local Republicans and Democrats largely splitting on legislation last month that would effectively stop the country from taking Syrian refugees for now.
Kirk released the TV ad the day after candidates faced a deadline to file to get on the ballot in Illinois. Two Republican challengers have signed up to run against Kirk in March, including Oswego IT consultant James Marter.
Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, faces two primary election opponents in former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris of Harvey.