WASHINGTON – Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth has unseated Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in Illinois.
Duckworth, who has served two terms in the House of Representatives, defeated Kirk, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010. Before becoming a member of the upper chamber, Kirk served five terms in the House of Representatives, beginning in 2001.
Kirk was trailing in most polls with just 12 days to go until the election, but the moderate Republican kept sliding further behind after commenting on his opponent's ethnic heritage during an Oct. 28 televised debate.
Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat, cited her military experience in that debate while trying to convince voters to send her to the Senate. Duckworth said her “family has served this nation in uniform going back to the [American] Revolution.”
Kirk followed up by saying, “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington." Duckworth was born in Thailand to a Thai mother of Chinese descent but her father is an American and a Marine Corps veteran.
Kirk's comment, for which he later apologized, drew national criticism and resulted in his further decline in the polls, handing Duckworth a comfortable victory as Democrats look to take back control of the Senate.
Kirk was one of the more moderate members of the Senate. He was even endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a liberal-leaning LGBT organization. However, the HRC rescinded its endorsement after Kirk's comments about Duckworth's heritage.