Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth’s (D) decision this week not to seek a rematch with freshman Rep. Peter Roskam (R) in 2008 leaves Democrats without a top-tier challenger in a state where the national party is targeting several GOP-held House seats.
Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in the war, received tremendous support in the previous cycle from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which aggressively recruited Iraq veterans.
She ultimately lost to Roskam, 51 percent to 49 percent, in the high-profile race to replace longtime Rep. Henry Hyde (R) in the suburban 6th district.
Christine Cegelis, whom Duckworth beat in the Democratic primary last year, also declined to make a third run for Congress.
In 2004, Hyde beat Cegelis in the general election by 12 points. It was one of the closest calls the former House Judiciary Committee chairman, who was first elected in 1974, ever had.
“This is a major blow to Democrats who have put all their hopes for this seat on Duckworth’s shoulders,” said Julie Shutley, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman. “This is just writing on the wall for Democrats who hoped to make Illinois a battleground in the ’08 cycle.”
The Democrats’ ability to pick up seats in the Land of Lincoln largely depends on waging serious campaigns in suburban Chicago districts such as Roskam’s.
Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the DCCC, said political shifts in the 6th district will enable the Democrats to be competitive there regardless of who their candidate is, particularly in a presidential election year.
“As a one time staffer to Tom DeLay, Congressman Roskam is well schooled in how to play follow-the-leader, and he’s perfected it by sticking with President Bush on his failed policies,” Rudominer said.
— Nicole Duran