Eighth District Democratic candidates Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth both say they're the candidate to beat Congressman Joe Walsh next November.
Yet, one of them has to win the March 20 primary first. And the strategies each is employing to do so contrast markedly.
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Krishnamoorthi, the state's former deputy treasurer and a resident of Hoffman Estates, began hustling for local endorsements very early in the game -- before the new congressional map was released in late May, and before Duckworth -- previously President Barack Obama's assistant secretary of veterans affairs -- could publicly talk about a bid for office.
Krishnamoorthi's list of supporters now includes a handful of state lawmakers whose districts are contained within the 8th Congressional District -- State Sen. Michael Noland of Elgin, State Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and State Rep. Fred Crespo of Hoffman Estates among them.
The 8th District includes towns from Elgin to Elk Grove Village and Palatine to Lombard, mostly in Cook and DuPage counties.
Duckworth says those same officials have pledged their support to her beyond the primary.
"I am not making it a priority to ask the state rep or senators for endorsements. This is a federal race," she said. Instead, Duckworth, also of Hoffman Estates, touts the support and endorsement of a number of local unions in the manufacturing-heavy district, including Service Employees International labor union and the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
She says her focus for now is on energizing a base that included much of her old campaign territory when she ran for Congress in 2006, but lost to Republican Peter Roskam.
Duckworth's strategy includes releasing the results of a recent poll suggesting registered voters in the district believe she has a better chance than Krishnamoorthi of defeating Walsh, with Obama strategist David Axelrod providing comments.
But Krishnamoorthi says his work on the grass-roots level of the community more than compensates.
"The support that we have locally is pretty broad and deep. It translates into a lot of support in the field. We're making a lot of phone calls, we're knocking on doors. These folks are spreading the word (about me). That more than compensates for perhaps certain party elders weighing in for my opponent."
Both candidates plan to earn the support of is the Asian-American community.
While Krishnamoorthi says he believes the 8th District's Indian population is "ready for a seat at the table," Duckworth points out that she was the first candidate to bring the Asian-American Action Fund to the district in 2006.
"Asian-Americans ... they care about the same things the rest of the community cares about. Jobs and good schools," Duckworth said.
According to the third quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission, Duckworth had $364,295 on hand at the end of September. Krishnamoorthi had $635,997.
Year-end reports were due at midnight Tuesday.