Duckworth is a first-term House Democrat. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Political circumstance could one day bring Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., together on a ballot against each other. But for now, military service and traumatic injury have united them at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where they often run into one another and visit with troops.
Kirk, who is partially paralyzed from a stroke he suffered two years ago, does rehabilitation at the center when he’s in Washington for Senate sessions. He is diligent about his treatment there, in part because he is getting in shape for a grueling 2016 re-election bid.
Duckworth, a former assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, spent a year at Walter Reed after she lost her legs in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2004. She frequently visits the center that’s now in Bethesda, Md., and bumps into Kirk while he’s making his rounds.
Duckworth tops the Democrats’ list of lawmakers who could run for Senate in Illinois someday. But in a recent extended interview with Roll Call, Kirk talked about his “good” relationship with Duckworth, showing off the braces he wears on his legs to help him walk — equipment he says is very similar to hers.