Duckworth Announces Senate Candidacy in Illinois

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Rep. Tammy Duckworth

Rep. Tammy Duckworth

SCHAUMBERG, Ill. — Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on March 30 announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

In a video message to supporters, Duckworth talks about her upbringing, service in the military, and commitment to Illinois’ families, and lays out her vision of leadership for the state.

“I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because it’s time for Washington to be held accountable and to put Illinois’ families and communities first,” said Duckworth. “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.”

She will be challenging the Republican incumbent, Mark Kirk.

Duckworth, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, served in the Army Reserve Forces for 23 years until she announced her retirement at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2014. She served as director of the Illinois Department for Veteran Affairs from 2006-2009 and as an assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009-2011.

She is currently in her second term as representative of Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, having defeated Republican incumbent Joe Walsh in 2012 and Republican challenger Lawrence Kaifesh in 2014.

The first Asian Pacific American to represent Illinois in Congress, the first member of Congress born in Thailand, and the first disabled woman elected to the House of Representatives, Duckworth is the daughter of an American father who traced his family’s roots in the Americas back to before the Revolutionary War and a Thai mother of Chinese ancestry. She grew up in Southeast Asia and Hawaii, and is fluent in Thai and Indonesian.

If elected, she would be the second Asian Pacific American woman in the Senate, the first being Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Other APAs who have served in the Senate are Hiram Fong (R-Hawaii), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Spark Matsunaga (D-Hawaii), S.I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

Her husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, is a major in the U.S. Army. They live with their daughter Abigail, who was born in November, in Hoffman Estates, Ill.

Following is a transcript of her video:

“Hi, I’m Tammy Duckworth. I’d like to tell you a little about myself.

“I’m the daughter of a Marine, a wife, a new mom and a combat veteran.

“When I was in high school, my dad lost his job at 55 and struggled with unemployment.

“The bottom fell out for us. For a time, food stamps kept my brother and me from going hungry.

“Graduating from college was a challenge, but I made it with help of loans, Pell grants and lots of waitressing.

“That’s why I’ve always believed that if you don’t give up on yourself – our nation should never give up on you either.

“Bryan [Bowlsbey] and I met when we were both cadets in ROTC.

“Later, I was given the opportunity to become a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and deployed to Iraq.

“In 2004, while flying a combat mission near Bagdad, an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) tore through our cockpit, taking my legs and part of my arm with it.

“The only reason I made it home was because of the heroism of my courageous buddies, who risked their lives to save mine.

“I view my time now as a bonus, and that has allowed me speak up without fear.

“So when Congress failed to pass a budget, I sponsored the ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Act and led by example – returning more than $10,000 of my own pay to taxpayers and cutting a over $100,000 from my office budget.

“I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because it’s time for Washington to be held accountable and to put Illinois’ families and communities first.

“I believe that together we can build an America this is strong from the ground up.

“We need more Pre-K. We need college loans to be affordable.

“And the engines of Illinois’ economy are small businesses and the middle class – I believe we need tax cuts for them for a change.

“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.

“Thank you.”

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