Kelly out of Senate race; Duckworth camp demands personal Kirk ‘bro/ho’ apology

SHARE Kelly out of Senate race; Duckworth camp demands personal Kirk ‘bro/ho’ apology
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Cong. Robin Kelly in 2013. |Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media

WASHINGTON — Rep. Robin Kelly saidFridayshe will not make a Senate bid, setting up an Illinois Democratic primary fight between Rep. Tammy Duckworth and attorney Andrea Zopp.

The announcement comes the day after Sen. Mark Kirk hobbled his re-election with his“bro with no ho” crack.

Meanwhile, Duckworth, through a spokesman, hit Kirk for not personally apologizing for the comment he madeThursdayabout 2016 GOP presidential contender Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. While sitting in front of an open microphone at a Senate Appropriation Committee hearing Kirk saidthat “he’s a bro with no ho. That is what we’d say on the South Side.”

In 15 words, Kirk — who lives in north suburban Highland Park, not in Chicago’s African-American South Side neighborhoods — was able to insult females and African-Americans.

Here is a look at Friday’sdevelopments in the ripening Illinois Senate race, where Kirk, seeking a second term, is one of the most vulnerable Republicans running in 2016:

KELLY NOT RUNNING

Kelly told the Sun-Times in an e-mail she will run again for the 2ndDistrict House seat she first won in an April 9, 2013 special election to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., now serving out his prison sentence at a Baltimore halfway house.

Kelly, who has a lock on her House re-election,said, “Over the past few months as I’ve talked with people throughout the state about the possibility of a Senate run, I’ve been fortunate to receive an abundance of support and encouragement from Chicago to East St. Louis, Peoria to Carbondale.”

“There is a strong desire among the people of Illinois for new leadership in the U.S. Senate, for fresh ideas on how to expand access to opportunity for Illinois families. I share that desire and remain committed to doing my part in helping Illinoisans get ahead.

“But there is unfulfilled promise in the 2nd District, a diverse district with diverse needs. And I still have a job to do in helping my district bring that promise to fruition. I am very excited about the road ahead for the 2nd District and the State of Illinois,” she said.

In bowing out of the March, 2016 Democrat primary, Kelly did not throw her support to either Zopp, the former Chicago Urban League Chief, or Duckworth. Kelly, like Zopp, is an African American female.

Duckworth, a new mother, and Kelly are pals. “Robin hosted a baby shower for Abigail and me two weeks ago, and I’m so grateful for her friendship. I always value her insight into the communities she so capably serves, and I look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen Illinois families,” Duckworth said in a statement.

While some other Democrats are mulling a run — including state Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor — no one except Duckworth and Zopp have organized campaigns.

Duckworth is the frontrunner.

Last month Kirk told reporters in Chicago, “Zopp is an easier candidate for me to defeat. . . . Because she’s not as well-known.”

‘BRO/HO’ KIRK FALLOUT

It’s too early to tell how damaging Kirk’s “bro/ho” remark will be.

On Thursday, Kirk’s spokesman said, “the senator apologizes to anyone offended by his remark.” From the Kirk political team’s perspective, that should count as an apology and to discount Kirk’s statement via a spokesman is splitting hairs.

However, real life politics works like this: Kirk left a flank exposed because he didn’t say the word apology himself. Duckworth, who is fundraising off of the Kirk gaffe, said through a spokesmanFriday “Kirk should apologize, personally and immediately.”

It’s noted, of course, that Duckworth made the apology demand through a spokesman.On Monday, she is expected to up the Kirk apology ante in person – when she speaks at a previously scheduled EMILY’s List regional meeting in Chicago at the W Chicago.

EMILY’s List spokesman Marcy Stech said, “we’ll absolutely be calling out” Kirk “for his disrespectful words towards women – and his disrespectful votes, too.”

On Monday, Kirk will be fundraising in New York.

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