At least two major supporters of Sen. Mark Kirk have pulled their endorsements of the Republican representative following a racially-charged comment the senator made about the heritage and military legacy of Democratic challenger Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s family.
The Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBTQ advocacy group, and the Americans for Responsible Solutions political action committee, a gun-violence prevention organization co-founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, pulled their endorsements over the weekend, citing what one group called a "racist attack" by Kirk.
During a debate last Thursday, Kirk mocked Duckworth’s family history of military service after the congresswoman said her family has “served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution.”
“I had forgotten your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” Kirk responded.
Duckworth, who lost both legs piloting a Black Hawk helicopter over Iraq in 2004, was born in Bangkok to a Thai mother of Chinese descent. Her father was a U.S. Army veteran.
Kirk’s comments were immediately condemned on social media and beyond. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lauded Duckworth and slammed Kirk in a tweet Friday.
The Republican senator ultimately apologized to Duckworth Friday. The congresswoman accepted his apology later that day.
“Thanks, Sen. Kirk,” Duckworth tweeted. “Let’s honor my family’s service — and your own — by sticking to the issues for the final week."
This is the first time the HRC has pulled an endorsement in its 36-year history. The HRC is now endorsing Duckworth and “contributing the maximum to her campaign.”
ARS PAC also pulled Kirk’s endorsement Saturday, citing the senator’s “racist attack” on Duckworth.
“A man who is not worthy of your vote cannot be worthy of our endorsement,” the statement read.
“Congresswoman Duckworth is an American hero and a powerful voice for stronger gun laws,” the group added. “She will be an exceptional United States Senator.”