Incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk calls for national unity after losing seat

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Erica Snow/Daily Senior Staffer

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) greets supporters Tuesday night. Kirk urged for unity when he conceded the election to challenger Rep. Tammy Duckworth (R-Ill).

Erica Snow, Assistant City Editor

NORTHBROOK, Ill. — Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) lost his Senate seat to Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, but said in his concession speech he would still continue to fight for the state.

“Whats unites us as Americans is much stronger than what divides us,” Kirk said. “After my stroke I thought for a long time what is the political gift that Illinois has given to the country. … I decided that the unique Illinois gift to the country has been an individual dignity of personal freedom.”

Duckworth won about 54.4 percent of the vote, and Kirk won about 40.3 percent of the vote, according to a Politico report.

Kirk thanked his family and friends during his concession speech at his election viewing party at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel in Northbrook.

Human Rights Campaign and Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, a gun control group, pulled their endorsements for Kirk after he made a jab at Duckworth’s heritage at a televised debate. At the debate, Kirk questioned Duckworth’s Thai heritage, saying “I forgot your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

Kirk later apologized to Duckworth for the comments.

Event attendee Valerie Joaquin said the concession speech was “very professional.” Joaquin, a 16-year-old intern, is from Park Ridge, Ill., and said she grew up in a Democratic household but benefitted from working for the Republican senator.

“I want to be influenced by both parties,” Joaquin said. “Just because you grew up in a certain household doesn’t mean to have to be one way.”

Even though Kirk lost, campaign worker Joely Friedman said Kirk’s path to the Senate seat was an “uphill battle,” and she remained hopeful until the results were called.

The Associated Press called Duckworth’s win on Twitter at 8:03 p.m.

Friedman, who has worked with the campaign since May, said Kirk would continue to work for Illinois residents.

“I was optimistic the whole time. It all happened…so fast. We’re definitely all disappointed, but not for a second we’re not going to stop support Sen. Kirk in whatever he wants to do.”

Despite Kirk’s loss, his supporters remained jubilant. Some yelled “Kirk! Kirk! Kirk!” as he entered and exited the party, and some supporters danced.

Kirk said he would do whatever he could to help Duckworth ensure that Illinois has effective representation in the Senate and called for national unity.

“I ran to be an advocate for Illinois, a state that has a very strong work ethic and is a home to the best baseball team,” Kirk said.

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