Nearly 12 years to the day after a rocket-propelled grenade downed the Army helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq, Tammy Duckworth prepared Wednesday to become Illinois’ next junior U.S. senator, recapturing for Democrats the seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Duckworth’s win follows an often low-key yet high-profile campaign against Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who billed himself as the underdog in Democrat-leaning Illinois and made his recovery from a 2012 stroke a focus of his re-election bid.