Sen. Mark Kirk Climbs Stairs to Prepare for Tough 2016 Election | NBC Chicago
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Sen. Mark Kirk Climbs Stairs to Prepare for Tough 2016 Election

Kirk plans to participate in the "Hustle Up the Hancock" stair climb on Sunday

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    Senator Mark Kirk plans to climb the tallest buildings across Illinois to prove that he has recovered from the stroke he suffered three years ago as well as to prove that he can stand up to a tough 2016 election. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015)

    Senator Mark Kirk is no stranger to tough elections, and he may be headed for another one in 2016 with four democrats already expressing interest in opposing him.

    One way Kirk is preparing for the fight is by literally climbing the stairs of tall buildings throughout the state.

    Kirk suffered a stroke three years ago. Climbing those stairs will be a physical challenge as well as his way of proving he's fit for the job and ready for whomever he could face in a political contest.

    "I have a lot of tough races behind me, and 2016 looks to be a bad brawl in the Midwest here," Kirk said.

    Kirk met Friday with the folks he calls "Kirk's Battle Buddies" at the Rehab Institute of Chicago, where he worked to be able to walk again.

    "It's a way to give support and comfort to people, to make sure they feel they are not alone," Kirk said.

    At least four democrats are considering running against Kirk in November 2016, including Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

    "I will seriously take a look at that Senate run, but I need to make sure I can bring something to the table," Duckworth said.

    From his first steps back up the Capitol steps when he returned to Congress after suffering a stroke to climbing the steps of the Willis Tower, Kirk's steps are a sign that he's not giving up.

    His next challenge is to take part in Sunday's "Hustle Up the Hancock."

    "My job is to conquer as many tall buildings as I can," Kirk said.

    In addition to his democratic challengers, Kirk may also face a republican primary challenge, an election that would take place in just 13 months.

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