Congressman Joe Walsh told supporters Thursday night that he plans to seek re-election in the 8th Congressional District, a change of heart from three months ago.
The decision means Walsh is likely to win the Republican primary but face a stiff general election challenge from a Democratic field that includes Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates.
Barack Obama's America," Walsh said in announcing the decision.
If the new map withstands a Republican federal court challenge, Walsh contended that the tea party movement would help him get re-elected, even in a Democratic-leaning district. Walsh said he believes that the group represents "damn near" every Republican and independent voter.
In September, Walsh said he would run in the new 14th Congressional District, which meant a tough primary against fellow conservative freshman Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren of Winfield in DuPage County.
Rather than taking on Hultgren, who was considered an early favorite in a primary contest, Walsh faces no major challenger in the March GOP primary in the 8th. Though often critical of House Republican leadership, Walsh could seek campaign funding to fight off a Democratic-backed general election opponent.
While shopping for a district, Walsh had told a group in St. Charles last weekend that he's "going to let the world know Monday what I'm going to do." Monday passed with no word from Walsh until his campaign announced his appearance Thursday night at the monthly meeting of the Chicago Tea Party.
The meeting was held in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood — far from any of the districts he had considered representing but closer to TV cameras. Walsh, a darling of the tea party movement, has been a controversial political figure. At town hall meetings, Walsh has sharply rebuked some questioners, and he remains involved in a court dispute with his former wife over child support.
Walsh's McHenry home was lumped into the 14th District, but he later began exploring a possible run in the newly drawn 8th District. Walsh, who represents the current north and northwest suburban 8th, saw the updated boundary lines drawn to favor a Democrat, and the district is home to no incumbent. The new 8th includes Elgin, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village.
Two Democrats are seeking the 8th District nomination: Duckworth, a former assistant secretary of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, a former state deputy treasurer. Duckworth lost a bid for Congress in 2006 while Krishnamoorthi lost a 2010 bid for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller.
"Congressman Walsh should know that I've never backed down from a fight in my life," Duckworth said in a statement.
Krishnamoorthi said he's "uniquely positioned to deal with the serious business and economic challenges confronting our country, and to stand up to Joe Walsh and the tea party on the economy and job creation."