Wounded pilot may run for Congress
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By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Mike Gordon
Former Hawai'i resident and wounded Army helicopter pilot Maj. Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth will run for an Illinois seat in Congress, according to Mainland media outlets.
In a telephone interview yesterday, her husband said Duckworth's active-duty military status limited what they could say. She was not available for comment yesterday.
"I am limited in what I can actually say," said Duckworth's husband, Brian Bowlsbey. "Tammy is currently on active duty and the law is pretty explicit about active-duty soldiers not engaging in any partisan political activity or making partisan statements."
Those kinds of statements would include political aspirations, Bowlsbey said.
"I can't even speak to that," he said. "We want to stay close to the letter and spirit of the law."
Newsweek, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Hill have reported that Duckworth, 36, would like to run for a suburban seat west of Chicago that will be vacated by retiring Rep. Henry Hyde, a Republican.
Duckworth lost her right leg and her lower left leg when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded against her Black Hawk helicopter on Nov. 12, 2004.
She spent much of the past year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Duckworth is a graduate of McKinley High School and the University of Hawai'i, but has lived in Illinois the past 15 years. She is a member of the Illinois Army National Guard.
Bowlsbey said his wife has submitted the paperwork to be discharged and hopes to return to a job with the Illinois Army National Guard. A job there would not prevent her from seeking political office, but Duckworth would not be allowed to make political comments on the days she is in uniform, Bowlsbey said.
Duckworth is not sure when her discharge will be complete, her husband said.
The filing deadline in Illinois is Dec. 19.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Duckworth visited Illinois over the Thanksgiving weekend to gauge her chances.
The paper reported that the head of a public relations firm helping Duckworth, Rick Jasculca, said last week that the war veteran would be "talking to neighbors and various friends in the district to gauge whether there is any appetite for the possibility of her running for Congress."
But yesterday, Jascula's firm, Jasculca/Terman and Associates, refused to comment on the possible bid.
"There has been a lot of speculation in Illinois that she is going to run for Congress," said Lori Goldberg, the firm's vice president for special projects and event management. "But until she is discharged from active duty in about two weeks or so, she can't talk about it."
Neither can the firm, Goldberg told The Advertiser, adding that it had volunteered to help Duckworth.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawai'i, who met Duckworth when she was in Hawai'i last September, yesterday called her "charismatic, confident and engaging." Duckworth would succeed at anything she chose to do, he said.
Duckworth would not be the first Iraqi war veteran to run for office, he said.
"I think it is a good thing for the body politic," Case said. "I think it is a good development that the veteran's perspective comes into Congress at a crucial time."
Case cited the recent race for an Ohio House seat in which Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett lost in a special election to replace Bob Portman, who left Congress to become a U.S. trade representative.
Hacket, a Marine reservist who spent seven months in Iraq, is an outspoken critic of the war. He was narrowly defeated.
"What he had was credibility when he talked about Iraq," Case said. "He had been there. It wasn't an academic exercise for him when he talked about Iraq."
Reach Mike Gordon at email@example.com.