Tammy Duckworth vs. Mark Kirk: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide for 2016 Illinois Senate Race

Are you looking for a nonpartisan voter guide for the Tammy Duckworth vs. Mark Kirk Senate race? One that will give you an accurate, no-spin comparison of the candidates’ positions on key issues? Our Campus Election Engagement Project is a national nonpartisan initiative working to increase student electoral participation. At the request of the schools we work with, we’ve created concise nonpartisan candidate guides for the presidential race, for the importance of the 2016 election on future Supreme Court decisions, and for 20 Senate and Governor’s races, including this Senate race. Our lead researcher spent 19 years as a senior editor at Encyclopedia Britannica, and we invite readers to share this and our other guides as widely as possible

So here are the issue-by-issue stands for Tammy Duckworth and Mark Kirk. Visit our Nonpartisan Candidate Guides home page to find links to all our other guides, with most available in both online/mobile friendly and printable PDF formats.

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Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: No

Campaign Finance: Do you support the DISCLOSE Act, which requires key funders of political ads to put their names on those ads?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No

Campaign Finance: Support Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited independent political expenditures by corporations and unions?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: Yes[1]

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Has said climate change is real, but questions the role of industrial emissions[2]

Climate Change: Should government limit the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No. Opposes carbon tax and EPA regulation of greenhouse gases

Contraception: Should employers be able to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees if they disagree with it morally?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: No

Economy: Support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No[3]

Financial Regulation: Support the Dodd-Frank Act, which established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and increases regulation of Wall Street corporations and financial institutions?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No

Gay Marriage: Support gay marriage?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Yes

Gun Control: Support more restrictive gun control legislation?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Yes

Healthcare: Repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: Yes

Healthcare: Did you support shutting down the federal government in order to defund Obamacare in 2013?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: Voted for several bills that contributed to shutdown, then for compromise that resolved it.

Healthcare: Should Planned Parenthood be eligible to receive public funds for non-abortion health services?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Yes

Immigration: Support the DREAM Act, which would allow children brought into the country illegally to achieve legal status if meet certain conditions? [4]

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Voted against it in 2010. Now supports it.

Immigration: Should America’s 11 million undocumented residents have an earned path to citizenship?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Only as part of a two-step reform: first secure the border and then create a path to citizenship.

Iran: Support the US-Iran treaty that limits Iran’s nuclear capability in return for lifting economic sanctions?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No

Iraq: Should the US recommit significant additional ground troops to Iraq to combat the success of ISIS?

Duckworth: Only as part of long-term plan and exit strategy drawing on all facets of U.S. power.[5]

Kirk: Supports Obama request to fight ISIS for limited engagement of three years.

Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No, including for medical marijuana.

Minimum Wage: Raise the federal minimum wage?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No

Prisons: Switch money from prisons to preventive measures like education and social services?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Unknown[6]

Renewable Energy: Support government mandates and/or subsidies for renewable energy?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Yes. Also supports fossil fuel subsidies.

Social Security: Support full or partial Social Security privatization?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: Yes

Student Debt: Refinance student loans at lower rates, paid for by increasing taxes on high earners?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No

Student Financial Aid: Should federal student financial aid, like Pell Grants, be increased?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Has supported some expansions, opposed others.[7]

Supreme Court: Support the Senate holding hearings to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: Yes

Taxes: Signed Americans for Tax Reform Pledge to oppose “any and all” tax increases to raise revenue?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: Yes

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Duckworth: Yes

Kirk: No

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Duckworth: No

Kirk: Voted to require photo ID in federal elections.[8]

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Other senate candidates include Chris Aguayo (Veterans Party of America), Chad Koppie (Constitution Party), Kent McMillen (L), and Scott Summers (G). Due to limited space, we can’t include their position, but invite you to check out their websites.

Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, campuselect.org, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included Votesmart.org, Countable.us, Ballotpedia.org, OntheIssues.org, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, and public candidate statements. For a guide to all races, see Vote411.org, from the League of Women Voters, and Ballotready.org.

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[1] History of support, but is remaining silent on the issue during 2016 campaign.

[2] Recently acknowledged that human activity contributes to climate change, but historically has questioned this and voted against bills that would have addressed climate change. See Chicago Tribune overview.

[3] Supported 2009 federal stimulus package, but opposed subsequent packages. Advocates for across the board federal spending cuts.

[4]Need to have graduated from high school, have a clean legal record, and attend college or serve in the military.

[5] See Chicago Tribune article detailing Duckworth’s extensive criteria for further intervention.

[6] History of tough positions on crime, but supports sentencing reform. No clear statements on shifting resources to preventive measures.

[7] Has supported some Pell Grant expansion and increases in flexibility, but opposed legislation cutting subsidies to private lenders and using the savings to increase Pell Grants, describing as “a complete government takeover.”

[8] States that he “strongly favors making voter registration easier” but voted for requiring photo ID in federal elections in 2006.

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