IL-06: Emily's List Weighs In
by Matt Stoller, Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 12:22:25 PM EST
Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth received an endorsement from EMILY's List because she agreed with the social-issue stand that is the group's organizing principle: The influential political action organization only backs Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.
But Duckworth, who is competing for the 6th District seat left open by retiring 16-term Republican Rep. Henry J. Hyde, also received the group's nod for a politically pragmatic reason. EMILY's List officials believe Duckworth -- who has drawn national attention for the grievous war wounds she suffered while serving as a helicopter pilot in Iraq -- is better suited than her two opponents in the March 21 primary to seriously compete this fall in the Republican-leaning 6th.
"Tammy has earned impressive support across the 6th Congressional District in Illinois, and demonstrated that she is one of our best opportunities to pick up a Democratic seat in the U.S. House," EMILY's List President Ellen Malcolm said in a statement released late Friday. "EMILY's List considers this to be one of our top priority races and our membership will dedicate their considerable strength to seeing that Tammy Duckworth is victorious."
EMILY'S List opted for Duckworth, a first-time candidate, even though she is opposed by another Democratic woman who supports abortion rights: Christine Cegelis, a technology consultant who took 44 percent of the vote and held Hyde to 56 percent -- his lowest re-election vote share ever -- in 2004.
This is a insider/outsider fight.
Even before EMILY's List stepped in, Democratic insiders were lining up behind Duckworth. She has received contributions from committees associated with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California; Illinois Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin and Barack Obama; Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel, who represents Illinois' 5th District; and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois' 9th District.
Cegelis isn't taking this lying down.
Cegelis touted an endorsement last week from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents many 6th District residents who work at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
She's somewhat of a netroots favorite, with $78K plus via Actblue, though certainly not a consensus pick.
UPDATE: Wow, in listening to this radio interview, Duckworth is waffling on parental notification. It's odd that Emily's List endorsed her for the primary.