For what has been a relatively uncontroversial Democratic primary, the gloves came off Wednesday night when 8th Congressional District candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi criticized his opponent Tammy Duckworth's economic recovery plan as mere sound bites, lacking substance during a debate on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight."
Krishnamoorthi, a Hoffman Estates executive and former deputy treasurer of Illinois, said his 24-page plan lays out detailed steps on how to tackle the biggest issue in the district -- jobs creation -- and said it is a stark contrast to Duckworth's two-and-a-half page plan.
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"The question to voters here is do you want substance or do you want sound bites?" he said. "There are at least four keys to addressing our economic challenges in this district -- jump starting small businesses, investing in public infrastructure, addressing the housing crisis, and reviving the manufacturing sector in our district. I've led programs that have helped thousands of individuals, small businesses, veterans, the disabled, farmers get low-interest loans to prosper. I'm the only candidate in this race who has actually created private sector employment. We started with a company of roughly two employees in early 2010 and have grown into a staff of 15 through one of the worst recessionary periods of our lifetime."
Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who is from Hoffman Estates, said while both hers and Krishnamoorthi's plans were similar, she has more experience lobbying state and federal lawmakers to actually execute the ideas in her plan.
"I helped push through the $600 tax credit that in 2009 alone 100 companies put over 100 veterans back to work and they were able to get a $600 tax credit for every veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Desert Storm that they hired," she said. "In fact, it was so successful that the president has included it in his jobs plan. And I have now modified that, and I have proposed it for companies that would hire folks who have been unemployed for more than six months."
Duckworth, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, touted her life experiences as the main thing that sets her apart from her primary opponent.
"My family was on food stamps. I used Pell Grants to go to school. So when I talk about these programs, I know exactly what the people in my constituency are going through. I've lived this exact same life," Duckworth said.
Krishnamoorthi also shared his family's struggles as immigrants, while playing to his strength as a businessman.
"When we came to this country, unfortunately, my father lost his job, and we were this close to destitution," he said. "We were put on food stamps. We were put in public housing."
Both candidates' jobs plans -- Krishnamoorthi's titled "Renewing our Economy" and Duckworth's named "Getting America Back to Work" -- are available on their respective campaign websites.
The winner of the March 20 primary will face Rep. Joe Walsh of McHenry in the fall general election. Walsh faces only write-in opposition in the Republican primary.
The 8th District spans Northwest suburban Cook and DuPage counties, stretching out to Elgin on the west, Arlington Heights on the north, Lombard on the south and Des Plaines on the east.