Fact Finder: U.S. Senate

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ILLINOIS — In the primaries, there’s a Republican and Democratic race for Senate. Technically, there are multiple candidates running to represent each party in November but based on television ads, you’d think we’re already there.

Mark Kirk is the Republican incumbent junior Senator. He serves as the chairman of the subcommittee responsible to military construction and Veterans’ Affairs budgeting.

Tammy Duckworth is a Congresswoman for a district northwest of Chicago. She is a Purple Heart-awarded veteran and former director of the Illinois’ Veterans’ Affairs Department. But, it’s her stance on homeland security which is under fire by the Kirk Campaign in its ad.

“ISIS terrorists are plotting to kill more Americans. Tammy Duckworth wants to accept 20 times more refugees than the president! What planet does Duckworth live on?”

The ad shows videos of Duckworth’s vocal support for the U.S. to bring in 200,000 Syrian refugees. While ISIS continues to pose a threat to national security, the ties between the terror group and those who are fleeing the war-torn country are hotly debated.

Kirk’s campaign errs on the side of caution: “Her calls for allowing 200,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, despite grave concerns from our nation’s top security advisers about the vetting process prove once again, she is naive and reckless.”

But Vote Vets Action Fund, a veterans’ fundraising group, says it’s on Duckworth’s side.

“Well, Senator, you voted against fixing equipment that keeps guys like me safe in the field.”

They’re referring to a 2003 vote against an amendment to transfer more than $3 billion in Iraq reconstruction funds to “quality of life enhancements for U.S. service members,” which included equipment repairs.

This is a political action committee funded ad, not run in coordination with the Duckworth campaign, but Kirk has said he only meant to vote against the other items labeled “quality of life enhancements;” things like dental screenings, pre-paid phone cards and transportation for rest and relaxation leave, but it also include water treatment plants.

The Vote Vets chairman released this statement in an email:

Senator Kirk’s campaign line of reasoning here is, to put it delicately, insane. He really wants to tell the people of Illinois that he objected to spending money to keep troops from contracting dysentery in Iraq? If that’s the argument he wants to make, we will happily oblige him.

When asked for a response, Kirk’s campaign said the ad’s message is simply wrong.

“This was yet another blatantly false and dishonest ad by Representative Duckworth and her liberal SuperPAC allies in an attempted to distract from Duckworth’s reckless and extreme policy of allowing 200,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. even though they cannot safely be screened.”

They’re both projected to win their respective primary races which means these ads could keep running through November.

The other candidates in the race on the Democratic side are Andrea Zopp and Napoleon Harris. On the Republican side, Kirk is being challenged by James Marter.

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