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Duckworth, Other Asian-American Politicians Making Mark In Illinois

(CBS) -- A historic day in Washington, as Tammy Duckworth is sworn in as Illinois's first Asian-American U.S. senator.

And she's just part of a wave of Asian-American elected officials who represent a breakthrough in Illinois politics.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Indian American, is sworn in to replace Duckworth in the U.S. House.

Both represent the emergence of a new ethnic group among Illinois politicians.

"It's very significant because, for the first time, we'll have Asian-Americans serving at every level of government," Illinois state Rep.-elect Theresa Mah says.

She is part of the change. Next week in Springfield, Mah will be sworn in as the first Asian-American state legislator in Illinois -- a development delayed, she says, by a history of discrimination.

Meantime, Ameya Pawar, the first Asian-American elected to Chicago's City Council, announced he's running for governor as a Democratic candidate.

"In many ways, I feel like I stand on their shoulders. Raja was a trailblazer for the Indian-American community, Tammy as well for the broader Asian-American community," Pawar says.

Their success as candidates convinces Pawar he can wage a victorious statewide race.

"We're not as divided as Gov. Rauner claims we are," he says, referring to the incumbent Republican. "We don't have to look at each other, and one another with a suspicious eye."


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