U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., indicated Monday that she won’t run for the U.S. Senate, a decision that creates a clearer path for Rep. Tammy Duckworth, the Chicago-area Democrat who announced Monday she would seek the party’s nomination to run next year.

Bustos’ announcement came as she praised Duckworth, saying in a statement that Duckworth "clearly has the priorities we need in our next U.S. Senator.”

In a video released Monday, Duckworth recalled her years in the military as a combat veteran in Iraq and trials growing up. And she argued for greater emphasis on education and small businesses.

"Together, we can build an America that is strong from the ground up," Duckworth said in the YouTube video.

Bustos is one of four members of the Illinois congressional delegation whose names have been mentioned as possible challengers to Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who is gearing up for what’s expected to be one of the toughest Senate races in the 2016 election cycle.

With Duckworth running, Bustos stepped aside.

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“I can’t see jumping into a race at this time when we already have such a strong fighter for working men and women and veterans," she said in an email.

Now in her second term, Bustos, an East Moline Democrat, has gotten noticed for her fundraising abilities in the downstate district, as well as winning — in convincing fashion last year — a seat that had been in the hands of a Republican.

Also said to be considering bids for the Democratic nomination are Reps. Bill Foster and Robin Kelly.

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