Campaign 2010

Mar 22, 2006

Tammy Duckworth wins Illinois 6 Primary

DCCC Press

Mar 22, 2006

Tammy Duckworth wins Illinois 6 Primary

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A former Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in a 2004 grenade attack in Iraq narrowly won the Illinois Democratic nomination for the House seat occupied by retiring GOP Rep. Henry Hyde.

Also, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich easily won his primary despite being potentially vulnerable amid corruption allegations, and Republican state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka earned a shot to defeat him in the fall.

In the 6th District Congressional race, former Army Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth narrowly defeated Christine Cegelis to win the Democratic congressional primary nomination for the suburban Chicago district seat held by the retiring Hyde.

The 37-year-old, Thailand-born Duckworth had been heavily recruited by Democrats eager to give the national party more credibility on security issues. She lost her legs in combat two years ago and recovered in a military hospital in Washington, D.C.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Duckworth was declared a winner with 44 percent, or 14,019 votes, to Cegelis' 40 percent, or 12,939 votes.

The gubernatorial campaigns, meanwhile, were overshadowed by a federal corruption trial involving the last GOP governor, George Ryan, whose fate is now in the hands of a jury.

Five Republicans fought hard for the nomination, despite scandal and infighting in their own party. In the end, two political insiders will fight it out for the governor's seat, pitting Blagojevich's record on education and health care against claims by Topinka that he mismanaged state money and used his office to reward political pals.

Topinka, known for her raucous sense of humor and miserly spending habits, is the former head of the Illinois Republican Party and the only Republican holding statewide office. She beat Jim Oberweis, a dairy owner and investment manager, amid allegations from GOP rivals that she was part of a network of corrupt politicians.

"Together, we are going to go out there and make sure we give Rod an early retirement," she told supporters. "We're going to restore honesty to this government so that people can be proud that they live in Illinois."

With 10,303 of 11,700 precincts counted in unofficial returns in the Republican primary, Topinka had 269,565 votes, or 38 percent, to 225,395 votes, or 32 percent, for Oberweis. State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington had 19 percent and Ron Gidwitz, a Chicago businessman, had 11 percent. Internet journalist Andy Martin trailed with less than 1 percent.

Blagojevich has denied doing anything unethical by giving state jobs and contracts to political supporters. He did little campaigning and rarely acknowledged his opponent, shrugging off a primary challenge from former Chicago alderman Edwin Eisendrath. With 10,303 of 11,700 precincts counted in unofficial returns, Blagojevich had 70 percent, or 585,525 votes, to Edwin Eisendrath's 30 percent, or 249,868 votes.

Eisendrath, a former Chicago alderman, mounted a limited, low-budget campaign that accused Blagojevich of running a corrupt, incompetent administration. He focused on Blagojevich's practice of awarding jobs and contracts to campaign donors.

"I believe we will move forward by staying committed to the values and priorities of helping hardworking people," Blagojevich said in a victory speech.

In the 8th District, businessman David McSweeney won the Republican nomination over attorney Kathy Salvi and four other candidates. He will challenge freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean. McSweeney had 23,700 votes, or 43 percent, with Salvi at 18,245 votes, or 33 percent, with 97 percent of the votes in.