Home

Does Duckworth Change the Math in Illinois or Nationally?

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you care about politics at all, you probably know Rep. Tammy Duckworth has entered the Illinois Senate race. She hopes to be the Democratic nominee against first-term GOP Sen. Mark S. Kirk next year, though other Democrats are said to be looking at bids.  

The Senate candidacy of the 47-year-old Democrat and Iraq War veteran, who is in her second term in Congress, has generated plenty of attention. That’s understandable, given that she has many assets as a Senate candidate and would be a formidable foe for Kirk, a moderate Republican in a very Democratic state. But, while Duckworth’s announcement is good news for Democrats, it simply isn’t a game-changer for handicappers, both amateur and professional and it shouldn’t change the way anyone looks at next year’s Senate race.  

In a sense, it is a bit of a yawner when compared with, for example, Republican Cory Gardner’s entry into the Colorado Senate race in February of last year.  

Gardner had ruled out a challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, and Republicans were left with a second- or third-tier challenger. So, when Gardner changed his mind and became a candidate, the Denver Post rightly called his announcement “a bombshell that alters Colorado's political landscape for the November elections.” Gardner’s entry fundamentally changed the outlook of a Senate race.  

On the other hand, Duckworth’s candidacy wasn’t a surprise. It’s been rumored for many weeks. In fact, it would have been a shock if she had passed on the race.  

Even if Duckworth had decided against entering the Senate contest, Democrats still would have plenty of other potential candidates who could take advantage of the state’s Democratic bent.  

For a fuller assessment of the Illinois Senate race, see my March 10 column and the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call ratings . The race remains rated a Tossup.  

Related: Duckworth Announces Senate Candidacy Kirk Starts 2016 Cycle as Underdog Kirk: 'No Frickin' Way I'm Retiring' Democrats Maneuver for Illinois House Seat Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat Be the first to know about Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call race rating changes with our new Roll Call politics app!

Topics: illinois senate