The general election matchup for Illinois' U.S. Senate race is now set.
As predicted by opinion polls, it'll be Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) against U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates). While both faced primary opponents--Kirk from Oswego businessman James Marter and Duckworth from former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp and State Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey), their campaigns have focused on attacking each other for months.
Now confirmed to be facing off in the general election, Kirk and Duckworth wasted little time in slamming the other in their Tuesday night victory speeches. Kirk focused his attacks on national security issues.
"The voters will have a clear knowledge that I'm fighting to protect our country from terrorists who are determined to attack and kill Americans," Kirk said, "while Tammy Duckworth wants to accept 200,000 unvetted Syrian refugees, which is the ten times the number our president has already called for."
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In turn, Duckworth attempted to tie Kirk to Donald Trump, referring to Kirk's comments to NBC Chicago last week that he'd support Trump, should he win the Republican presidential nomination.
"He has long embraced Trump's brand of divisive rhetoric and fear mongering, and now he's embracing Donald Trump himself," Duckworth said.
The race is expected to be one of the most expensive Senate campaigns this fall, and a top target for Democrats as they aim to regain their majority in the upper chamber. Kirk has been labeled among the most vulnerable incumbents in lists from publications such as Politico, Roll Call, and The Hill, but he warned in his Tuesday speech that he shouldn't be underestimated.
"From my first run for office, I've been underrated in every election since then. (I've) been counted out by political pundits and Washington insiders, and in every election I've beaten the odds and exceeded expectations," Kirk said.
There won't be much of a break in campaigning. Duckworth plans on making appearances to thank voters in Chicago and at Cafe Moxo in Springfield Wednesday morning.