More then ten years ago the people of Illinois chose me to be their United States Senator following a difficult Democratic primary fight and vigorous general election. Three years ago I was confirmed by the Senate and given the opportunity to serve my country as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.
Since my return home, many friends, supporters, and citizens have welcomed me and encouraged me to run for the Senate seat now held without distinction by Peter Fitzgerald. However I am convinced, that I can serve my country at this time by taking up new challenges to provide vision and leadership at this critical point in our nation's history. I therefore will not be a candidate for election to the United States Senate.
I am proud to say that as a Senator, I provided national leadership in education, and started an important debate about repairing our crumbling schools, and brought to Illinois the nation's first high school military academy. I was selected the first female member of the Senate Finance committee, and so participated in crafting tax policy that restored the interest deduction on college loans, that gave ethanol, an Illinois energy product, a market boost, that helped widows receive pension benefits, that encouraged retirement saving, and that expanded opportunity for the poorest citizens to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit. I was the sponsor of the important brownfields' tax law, that assists environmental remediation. As a member of the Banking Committee, I sponsored the creation of the dollar coin, which memorializes the contributions of women of color to this nation. As a member of the Judiciary committee, I authorized the Park Service's historic preservation of the Underground Railroad. The list of bills I sponsored and passed is long and extensive, and it is matched by a comparable list of the actual funding of Illinois projects I fought for and delivered.
I would gladly put my record of accomplishment as Senator up against the shockingly anemic and nonproductive service of the incumbent, Peter Fitzgerald. Members of the Illinois delegation from his own party have observed how little he has actually done for our state. Illinois can do better.
Fortunately, the current field of Democratic primary candidates is comprised of quality individuals and that number is likely to grow and the public debate will be enriched by the debate among them. I encourage the candidates to maintain that elevated level of discussion, so richly deserved by the citizens of Illinois. I hope these stellar candidates will leave negative tactics to other teams.
It will not serve the eventual goal of winning the general election to engage in a campaign that leaves the Democratic primary winner a weak opponent to a well-financed incumbent.
I remain passionate about the issues and concerns of the people of Illinois and public service is important to me. In this time of insecurity and disharmony, I believe everyone in Illinois has a duty to do the best we can to serve the public interest. My years as a legislator in Springfield and as Cook County Recorder of Deeds before my term as U S Senator convinced me that elected office is an effective and honorable path to that service.
In politics, as in life, it is more constructive to go forward. Teaching law at our venerable DePaul University, serving on local and national boards, speaking before individuals seeking a new start and grip on livelihood and life, have all been rewarding during the period since my return from the ambassadorship. an I am enthusiastic as I consider additional venues for my public service and the challenges ahead.
Elective office is an honor and a privilege that carries with it the most serious of obligations and responsibilities. I am eternally grateful to and humbled by the honor the people of this great state have given me in times past. That gratitude will ever be the wellspring of such service as I can be to the people of Illinois.