U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth said Thursday that a potential challenger in the Democratic primary for Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's seat won't hurt her in a 2016 contest that's already heating up.
Duckworth, who was recently elected to a second term in U.S. House from her Chicago-area district, could face Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp in the March primary in the U.S. Senate race. Zopp recently announced she was forming a campaign team.
"Whoever is in the primary is going to, on the Democratic side certainly, be bringing focus on Mark Kirk's failures at serving his district," Duckworth told reporters. "If we have a primary, that's what we'll be talking about. The only person that that's bad for is Mark Kirk."
Kirk spokesman Kevin Artl said a potential primary challenger shows that Duckworth is "a lackluster candidate with a weak record."
Kirk, a former congressman elected to the Senate in 2010, has already released a campaign ad. It highlights his military career in the U.S. Navy and his recovery from a major stroke in 2012.
Zopp, a business executive and Chicago Board of Education member, said this week that she would resign from Chicago Urban League, effective Sunday, and the education board to prepare her Senate bid.
Duckworth's comments Thursday followed her speech before the City Club of Chicago that largely touched on her military service and parenthood. The U.S. Army veteran retold the story of how she lost both legs and part of her arm while a helicopter pilot during combat in Iraq War in 2004. The 47-year-old also said that the birth of her daughter late last year has changed the way she sees the world.
When audience members asked questions, she reiterated claims that Kirk "betrayed" the country for signing a letter to Iranian leaders saying a treaty struck by President Barack Obama's administration curtailing that country's nuclear weapons-development program could be undone.
Kirk has stood by the letter.
"I won't hesitate to take a stand against an ineffective Iran strategy that harms our nation," he wrote in a March opinion piece for the Chicago Sun-Times, which his campaign recirculated Thursday.