Former NFL Player Dives Into Illinois Senate Race

Harris, shown here at the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala in Chicago last year, is the third Democrat to challenge Kirk. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images file photo)

State Sen. Napoleon Harris, a former National Football League linebacker, on Tuesday announced his entry into the crowded Democratic primary to run against Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.  

The Illinois pol, who currently represents parts of Chicago as well as sections of Cook and Will counties, is the third Democrat to vie for the post held by the first term incumbent who is considered one of the most vulnerable in the Senate. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., was the first to mount a challenge to Kirk and was followed by former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp.  

“Voters throughout my state Senate district, many of my colleagues in the General Assembly from across the state as well as family and friends have offered their support and encouraged me to run,” Harris said in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune .  

Zopp quickly acknowledged Harris' entry into the race and just as quickly took a shot at him.  

"Although his entry into the Democratic primary is extremely late, I welcome State Senator Harris to this important conversation about the future of our state and country,” she said in an official release.  

The is race will be Harris' second congressional bid. He ran in the special election to replace disgraced Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., but later bowed out of the race and endorsed the ultimate winner, Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill.  

Several former college football and NFL veterans have been elected to office. The last was Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., who retired at the end of the 113th Congress.  

The Illinois Senate race is rated Tilts Democratic by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call.  

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