PHILADELPHIA — Ahead of a big national speech before the Democratic National Convention, Rep. Tammy Duckworth spent her Wednesday morning slamming rival Sen. Mark Kirk before Illinois delegates and elected officials.
“Did Mark Kirk talk yet, or did he speak here yesterday or the day before? I mean he’s running so far from his record as a Republican, and I thought he might show up in Philadelphia,” Duckworth told Illinois delegates at their morning breakfast.
It has been a contentious battle between the two U.S. Senate candidates. Kirk has sought to link Duckworth to imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, while Duckworth continues to link Kirk to Gov. Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump, despite Kirk’s denouncement of the Republican presidential nominee.
Also on Wednesday, in what might become a bump in the road for Duckworth, two women who filed a workplace retaliation lawsuit against Duckworth relating to the Democrat’s tenure as the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs said they have rejected a settlement reached last month, Kirk’s campaign said in an email blast.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office, which is representing Duckworth would only say that an agreement had already been reached.
“We reached a final settlement agreement last month, and the paperwork is being finalized,” attorney general’s office spokeswoman Maura Possley said.
Both sides announced the case had been settled in late June for just $26,000.
The Kirk camp had been pushing the potential that Duckworth may have to testify in the Downstate Union County case, with a trial set for Aug. 15.
Duckworth’s campaign has called the case a “frivolous workplace case that dragged on over eight years.”
Kirk’s race with Duckworth is seen as a key opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat and try to retake control of the Senate.
A poll released last week showed Kirk with a razor thin margin over Duckworth.
“I don’t think there’s a closer friend to Gov. Rauner than Mark Kirk,” Duckworth said at the delegate breakfast. “In fact, much of Mark Kirk’s machine is running Rauner’s machine,” Duckworth said before criticizing Kirk for his voting record on trade deals and calling him someone willing to shift jobs overseas.
Jabs at Rauner have become commonplace at the morning breakfasts, where union leaders and elected officials have collectively criticized the freshman governor.
“I’m running to help Mark Kirk retire so he can go and do other things,” Duckworth said. “But really I’m running to make sure that families like me, families like yours, families like all of the ones across Illinois get a fair chance.”
Responding to Duckworth’s attacks, Kirk campaign spokesman Kevin Artl said: “Whether it was defending Rod Blagojevich or supporting Mike Madigan, Tammy Duckworth always puts her political ambitions ahead of what’s best for Illinois. While Rep. Duckworth votes with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid nearly 94% of the time, Senator Mark Kirk remains a thoughtful, independent leader who always puts Illinois first.”