Tammy Duckworth, one of two Democratic Congressional candidates making a bid in the 8th District, challenged her opponent Monday to reject any contribution from Super PACs -- political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.
Opponent Raja Krishnamoorthi said he'll agree -- but only if Duckworth also agrees not to accept contributions from international unions, lobbyists or other corporations.
The two candidates, both of Hoffman Estates, so far haven't agreed on any pledge.
Duckworth asked Krishnamoorthi to sign a pledge with her not to allow any Super PAC money to be used on television or radio ads or on direct mail to influence the 8th District primary race.
She challenged Krishnamoorthi to agree that if a Super PAC-supported ad did run, the candidate benefiting from it would pay half the cost of airing that ad to a charity of the opponent's choice.
Both Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi oppose the influence of Super PACs and support reversal of the recent Supreme Court decision that caused their evolution.
But Krishnamoorthi said he will make a promise with Duckworth only if it goes further.
Krishnamoorthi calls his terms "basically removing all D.C. money from this election."
He also proposed that the candidates get rid of "paid media (ads)" by holding one debate a week until the election.
Krishnamoorthi says while he is "troubled by the advent of Super PACs, and their appearance on the landscape, in this situation I'd have to take a look at the idea (the Duckworth campaign) put forward."
Duckworth's proposal is modeled after the "People's Pledge" made last month by Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and her opponent, Republican Sen. Scott Brown, which drew praise from across the country.
The evolution of Super PACs -- a buzz word this primary season -- comes as a result of a 2010 Supreme Court decision. By a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that the government could not ban political spending by corporations in elections. While Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates, they can spend unlimited amounts of money to promote the candidates they back, with fewer restrictions than a candidate's campaign committee has under federal election law.
For instance, Super PACs supporting GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign for president raised $30 million from fewer than 200 contributors. A single family gave more than $10 million to a Super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi have each signaled their support for a Constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court ruling.
Krishnamoorthi cited the importance of "taking as much money as possible out of politics (to) enable candidates to be able to stand on the merits of their ideas."
Duckworth called the pledge a "next step."
"We can't eliminate the influence of Super PACs alone," Duckworth said in a statement. "But if we work together, we can give voters in the 8th District the kind of open and transparent election they deserve."
Duckworth displayed an edge in fourth-quarter fundraising totals compared to Krishnamoorthi, but his overall war chest still remains larger.
According to year-end campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission, Duckworth has $561,651 in cash on hand. Krishnamoorthi has $791,157.
Duckworth, formerly assistant secretary of veterans affairs in the Obama administration, saw $42,250 of her money come from political action committees this quarter and $428,534 from individuals.
Krishnamoorthi saw $14,900 from political action committees and $274,489 come from individuals. Neither candidate has yet begun to air television or radio ads.
Chicago is considered to be the third most expensive media market in the country.