Minor concerns about Maj. Duckworth

Shes not the only lady in the race for Hydes seat.

By Lynn Harris

Published December 21, 2005 3:07PM (EST)

Broadsheet recently -- and rightly -- saluted Maj. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq 18 months after Bush declared "Mission Accomplished," and who has entered the race to fill the seat soon to be vacated by Republican Rep. Henry "Homewrecker" Hyde.

There are two additional things worth noting, however. As one Salon reader reminded us: "Illinois District 6 already has a terrific Democratic candidate: Christine Cegelis ... She's bright, committed and knows the issues important to her district -- of which Duckworth is not a resident. Duckworth was encouraged to run by Rep. Rahm Emanuel and others who think Republicans can best be defeated by war-experienced Democrats. Perhaps. But failing to support local, committed candidates who have already proven a connection with voters may result in misfire."

Very fair point. Still -- though the reader wasn't necessarily implying otherwise -- Broadsheet would like to think that, in the broadest (as opposed to most strategic) sense, there's room in a race for more than one woman, even more than one woman with similar ideals. We're glad, at some level, that no one said, "Eh, there's already a lady in that race." ("Eh, there's already a lady on the Op-Ed page.") As Cegelis herself said in a statement welcoming Duckworth aboard: "This race and our party are only strengthened by the exchange of opinions that occurs in a competitive primary." Note: another Dem named Lindy is running for the spot, but he's a guy.

Another reader wrote in to suggest that maybe we'd heart Duckworth less if we knew her position on abortion rights. Rumors are circulating that Duckworth once said she wouldn't support a "pro-choice judge." Perhaps Broadsheet's New York office is just off our game 'cause of the transit strike, but we have been unable thus far to confirm or deny.

Here's what we could find. In this Q&A with suburban Chicago's Daily Herald, her A to the Q of abortion is only: "I think that most people in our district think it's not the place of government to make that wrenching personal decision between a woman and her doctor. We need to increase the amount of information about adoption out there." Good start. But what do you think? About choices other than adoption?

And unless I missed something, her Web site doesn't mention reproductive rights at all. (On her site, by contrast, Cegelis vows to "increase access to family planning services along with equity in insurance coverage of contraceptives -- while protecting a woman's right to choose.") (Lindy Scott's says something about exploring "Clinton's pro-life policies that really worked." Talk about playing both sides!) According to the Chicago Sun-Times, "Duckworth said she supports abortion rights." OK. We'd just like to hear more.

In any regard, some commentators say that Duckworth vs. Cegelis -- hey, what about Scott? -- promises to be a classic "insider-outsider" race (wherein Duckworth, the DCCC darling, is seen as the insider). Well, that's better than a "catfight."

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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