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Tammy Duckworth

Illinois Republican Mark Kirk facing tough re-election challenge

WASHINGTON Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk's political vulnerability as he seeks re-election in 2016 boils down to this: He's a Republican in a Democratic state. His party affiliation proved less burdensome in 2010, midway into Barack Obama's first term in the White House. That year, in one of the best national political environments for Republicans since World War II, Kirk scored a 2-point victory, capturing the seat the president had once held. Kirk faces a tougher climb in the coming year, when Democrats are hoping to win back control of the Senate. The Illinois electorate will be bigger and more diverse in a presidential election year than it was during the midterm election. And...