Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth has unseated Illinois Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a boon for the Democrats' bid to regain control of the chamber.
Duckworth is crediting a "relentless focus on rebuilding" Illinois' middle class for her win. The two-term congresswoman will become the second woman to serve Illinois in the U.S. Senate.
She addressed supporters Tuesday evening, recalling the 2004 night when the helicopter she was co-piloting was shot down in Iraq while she was deployed with the Illinois National Guard. Duckworth lost both legs. She calls her recovery a "miracle" and says she'll try to honor the sacrifice of other Illinoisans who are facing challenges. In addition to serving as a congresswoman, she served as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and in a leadership role with the federal VA.
Earlier in the evening, Kirk called Duckworth to congratulate her and invite her for a beer at Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern. He told supporters the gesture will show other candidates can peacefully "bury the hatchet."
Kirk campaigned for a second term in the left-leaning state as an independent voice and was a sharp critic of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. The former congressman from Highland Park suffered a stroke in 2012, but returned to Washington a year later.