Pankau, Ramey will fight until the end
The Republican primary campaign for Illinois Senate between Sen. Carole Pankau of Itasca and Rep. Randy Ramey of Carol Stream often has been a contentious one.
Ramey has charged that Pankau has been ineffective in her nearly 20 years in Springfield. And Pankau has run television ads showing police video of Ramey's recent DUI.
But as the DuPage County candidates have sought to tell voters about their differences, they agree on at least one point.
With just more than a week to go before Election Day, a lot of voters who have watched the presidential campaign play out nationwide are just now starting to look at their local races.
"People are really starting to pay attention," said Ramey, who also serves as the DuPage County Republican chairman.
"I think Super Tuesday kind of woke everybody up," Pankau said. "It's not in their heads that a primary is coming."
Pankau and Ramey are vying for the Illinois Senate in the 23rd District, which includes parts of Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Itasca and Villa Park.
Because of the new political map this year, Ramey decided against running for re-election in the Illinois House and chose to take on Pankau for the Senate, setting up a sometimes-bruising primary election battle between two incumbent lawmakers — the kind of race that typically only comes around every 10 years when maps get redrawn.
They've split sharply on a handful of key issues.
On gambling, Pankau voted for the most recent gambling expansion proposal and favors slot machines at horse racing tracks like Arlington Park. She doesn't like the idea of a Chicago casino, though.
Ramey is the opposite, favoring a Chicago casino but voting against the most recent expansion plan that included slots at the tracks.
And though both candidates say the state's retirement systems need to be changed, they differ on exactly how.
Ramey has opposed a plan from House Republican Leader Tom Cross that would, among other things, make teachers and state workers pay more to keep their pension plans or decide to take a less lucrative one. He says teachers should have a seat at the bargaining table because it's not their fault the state's pension system is in trouble.
Pankau would favor Cross' plan, saying teachers have already had a chance to weigh in.
"They've just said, 'no, no, no,'" Pankau said.
The campaign hasn't been all about their policy difference, though, as Pankau has run tough ads about Ramey's DUI conviction last year that included police video clips from the night he was arrested. Pankau said she thinks it's an important issue for voters to consider.
Ramey says he's used some of Pankau's mailers to voters as an opportunity to talk to them about issues.
"It also allows me to talk about what my ideas are," he said.
Whoever wins the March 20 primary will face one of three Democrats in the November general election.
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