WASHINGTON - Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth made official on Monday that she will challenge Republican Sen. Mark Kirk for reelection in 2016.
Duckworth, an Iraq war amputee and two-term congresswoman, made the news public in a video released to supporters.
In the video, Duckworth calls herself the daughter of a Marine, a wife, new mom, and combat veteran, and she highlights the financial struggles her family faced when she was growing up and getting through college.
"If you elect me Illinois senator, I will fight my heart out to represent you with honor and integrity," she said.
She announced in January that she was exploring a run against Kirk, who was elected to the Senate in 2010 after nearly 10 years in the House.
Her prospects could be buoyed by 2016 being a presidential election year in a state that long has favored Democratic candidates for the White House.
Duckworth, 47, is the first Democrat to formally announce a run, though other House Democrats have said they are considering running, including Reps. Bill Foster of Naperville, Robin Kelly of Matteson, and Cheri Bustos of East Moline.
Foster on March 17 issued a statement saying he was "seriously considering" a candidacy, citing Kirk's signing a recent letter from Republican lawmakers to Iranian leaders, a move that critics felt circumvented the president on foreign policy.
Duckworth lost her legs in 2004 during the Iraq War when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
A former veterans official at the federal and state levels, Duckworth gave birth to her first child Nov. 18.