POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 31, 2011
Decorated Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth has not decided if she will run for elected office again. But if she does, it will not be for Hawaii.
"As honored as I am by all those who'd like me to run here — and I get asked that question all the time — my home and my National Guard unit are in Illinois. And if I run for office again, it'll be there," she said.
Duckworth, 43, has roots in Hawaii. She graduated from McKinley High School in 1985 and received her undergraduate degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her mother lives in Mililani.
The only time she ran for office, Duckworth lost a close race for an Illinois congressional seat in the 2006 general election to the Republican candidate.
After her election defeat, then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed her director of the state's Department of Veterans'Affairs. When another Illinois transplant from Hawaii, Barack Obama, became president, Obama appointed Duckworth assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is as a VA assistant secretary that Duckworth is in Hawaii. Her office runs the National Golden Age Games scheduled to conclude today. The games are for veterans 55 and older who receive health care from any Veterans Affairs medical facility. She will deliver the closing remarks.
Duckworth attended Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle's first Mayor's Memorial Day ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Monday morning and was the guest speaker at Gov. Neil Abercrombie's first Governor's Memorial Day Ceremony at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in the afternoon.
She talked about Sgt. 1st Class Bill Chaney, who died in Iraq. He was a Vietnam War veteran and crew chief instructor who Duckworth said made her a better officer when she commanded an Army aviation company.
Duckworth lost her right leg and much of her left leg and suffered severe damage to her right arm when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded on her lap while she was co-piloting a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on Nov. 12, 2004, in Iraq. She holds the rank of major and still performs drills with her National Guard unit.
Her name surfaced as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacant at the end of Sen. Daniel Akaka's term next year. Akaka has announced he will not run for re-election.
There also will be a vacancy in the U.S. House seat for Hawaii's second district. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono has announced she is a Senate candidate.