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Tammy Duckworth passes on Illinois lieutenant governor race

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 3:47 p.m.
Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth said Tuesday that she does not want to be considered as a potential candidate for lieutenant governor of Illinois.

Tammy Duckworth
Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth (AP)

Illinois Democrats are looking for a candidate to run in November in place of Scott Lee Cohen. He won the state's primary but dropped his campaign after news reports highlighted a 2005 arrest for domestic abuse and failure to pay back taxes.

Gov. Pat Quinn (D) told reporters last Friday that he had encouraged Duckworth to pursue the race.

"I made a commitment to President Obama and our nation's veterans to serve at the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and I want to fulfill my promise before returning home," Duckworth said in an e-mail sent to former political supporters.

Asked Monday about her political future by a Washington Post reporter visiting VA headquarters in Washington, Duckworth would not answer. She also declined to say whether she knew if the Illinois Democratic Party was considering her for a possible candidacy. Duckworth said she could not discuss the matter based on advice of general counsel, presumably referring to the Hatch Act that prohibits political activity by federal employees.

Duckworth ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006 and is well regarded by President Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, senior adviser David Axelrod and others at the White House.

Duckworth was seriously wounded while serving as an Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Iraq. She lost both legs in the November 2004 attack and now uses a wheelchair or two prosthetic legs. While recovering at Walter Reed, she met then-Sen. Obama, Emanuel and Sen. Richard Durbin. All three Illinois Democrats backed her unsuccessful 2006 congressional run. She was later was appointed the state's veterans affairs director.

"I would certainly run for office again, but it would have to be for the right reason," she said in a November interview.

"I didn’t run for office because I wanted the title Congresswoman," she said. "I ran for office because I was mad that, when I was in Iraq, I had to send 19 year-olds down the road driving 5,000-gallon aviation fuel tankers with no armor. That’s why I ran for office. I ran for office because my bills were completely paid for when I was injured, yet I couldn’t walk through the airport at O’Hare without strangers stopping me to touch my $100,000 artificial leg because they were saving up to buy one for themselves."

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 23, 2010; 3:39 PM ET
Categories:  Revolving Door  
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Comments

Too bad - it would likely have been better for veterans if she ran in Illinois and left VA! Instead, she's probably holding out for the SecVA job (presuming Mr. Shinseki departs). Alas, it is true that the very unfortunate loss of limbs in service to the country, combined with the politically-convenient relationship with Messrs. Emanuel & Axlerod, do NOT make a manager; someone with a well-earned axe to grind perhaps, but not a manager. That combo also makes for someone seemingly "untouchable" despite warranting some good ole investigative journalistic curiosity. But heck, if congressional oversight and VA leadership won't take her on, why would The Post .... ?

Posted by: ObservingVA | February 24, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

quack

Posted by: member5 | February 24, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

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