In a way, Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi are both playing the same card.
In recent campaign ads that have landed in suburban mailboxes from Elgin to Addison to Elk Grove Village, both 8th District Democratic primary opponents say they're "the" candidate to beat Congressman Joe Walsh, the McHenry Tea Partyer who's made national headlines with his charismatic candor and caustic rhetoric, in the November general election.
"It's one thing that really unifies Democrats -- to take on the Tea Party," said strategist Pete Giangreco, who has done work for the Duckworth campaign. "No one's a bigger example of a Tea Party radical. You have to ask who gets the big contrast."
Mass mailings are both an expensive effort and a strategic one -- with each candidate hoping his or her pieces will sway voters.
Krishnamoorthi, of Hoffman Estates, is touting his 24-page economic plan as a "path to prosperity." Duckworth, also of Hoffman Estates, highlights her personal experience with a financially struggling family and her years of work with the Obama administration as evidence of connection with both residents of the 8th District and Washington power players.
While neither campaign would release the specific amount spent, or how the direct mail pieces are targeted, a general formula recounted by political experts suggests both Krishnamoorthi and Duckworth are spending significant amounts.
Mailings generally can run a candidate between $12,000 and $18,000 apiece, according to that formula. Neither candidate has released TV or radio ads so far.
Here's what the candidates say in their mailings:
Mail pieces to date: 8
•"Tired of watching Tea Party Republicans": In an ad picturing Walsh shouting and pointing at a Gurnee meeting with residents, Krishnamoorthi takes aim at Tea Party Republicans who "scream at constituents rather than solve our country's problems."
•"Obstructionist politics": Another jab at Tea Party members who helped push the country's debt ceiling debate into overtime last spring. Unlike "Tea Party Republicans' obstructionist politics," Krishnamoorthi says his detailed economic plan will "improve the lives of middle-class families."
•"A plan": Two different mailers outline Krishnamoorthi's "Renewing Prosperity" economic plan, which includes integrating young adults into the workforce, investing in infrastructure, and jump-starting small business.
• "(Congressman) Joe Walsh is trying to stop President Obama from moving our country forward": Krishnamoorthi says he has a plan that will create the "good-paying jobs the middle class needs."
Mail pieces to date: 6
•"She has lived through it": Duckworth says she understands what struggling families are going through because she lived it herself, with her own family going on food stamps when she was a teen. The ad also touts her sacrifice to her country, with Democratic strategist David Axelrod commending "a woman with a spine of steel who has always done her duty."
•"We are not going to give up on you": Talks about Duckworth "knowing the pain of unemployment" and describes her as the first candidate in either party to release an economic plan. Duckworth's plan includes job retraining programs, investing in clean energy and biomedical research.
•Connecting with Obama: Another ad, focused on building the economy, highlights her work with the Obama administration as assistant secretary of veterans affairs.
•"With women": Duckworth highlights Walsh's statements before a hearing on contraceptive access."When Joe Walsh and the House Republicans say birth control is not about women, you know the wrong people are in charge of Washington," Duckworth says.
•Schaumburg letter carrier: The latest of Duckworth's ads feature Melissa Rakestraw, the Schaumburg letter carrier who says Walsh yelled at her during the Gurnee meeting that Krishnamoorthi also highlights.