Illinois Rep. Robin Kelly met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee about a possible Senate bid, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.
Kelly’s office declined to comment about the discussion but said the Chicago Democrat “continues to weigh a Senate bid” against Republican Mark S. Kirk, possibly the most vulnerable senator in 2016.
If Kelly enters the race, she’d face a primary against fellow Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who entered the race a month ago and is a favorite among national Democrats. Democrats say Duckworth, a disabled veteran of the Iraq War, offers the most challenging matchup for Kirk, a veteran who is also disabled after suffering a stroke in January 2012.
EMILY’s List, which helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, backed Duckworth’s bid Thursday despite Kelly’s continued interest. Duckworth now has a built-in national fundraising donor base for what’s expected to be one of the most expensive contests of the cycle.
Two other Democrats, state Sen. Napoleon Harris and Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp, are also mulling bids. Either one would complicate Kelly’s path to the nomination, as all three are black leaders from Chicago.
Kelly entered Congress in the 2013 special election to replace Jesse L. Jackson Jr.
Kirk won the Senate seat in 2010 against a weak Democratic opponent in a banner year for Republicans, which was sandwiched between two double-digit victories in Illinois by President Barack Obama.
Republicans hope a divisive primary will leave the eventual Democratic nominee damaged going into the general election.
Democrats already avoided primary bids from two other members of the delegation: Reps. Cheri Bustos and Bill Foster passed shortly after Duckworth announced her candidacy.
The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
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