8th District Democrats campaign down to the wire
The two Democratic candidates for the 8th Congressional District spent a bright and sunny St. Patrick's Day meeting voters, shaking hands and talking issues just three days before they square off in the primary election.
Raja Krishmanoorthi of Hoffman Estates walked with Palatine Township Democrats in the village's St. Patrick's Day parade.
"We're just trying to meet voters — trying to convince them to vote and to vote for me," Krishnamoorthi said. "I'm keeping it light, introducing myself and asking for people's support."
Walking with him were about 50 fellow Democrats, people like Wendy Glasshof of Palatine, who said Krishnamoorthi is a well-rounded candidate with a strong plan to create jobs.
"I just think he's a complete guy, and he's one of us," Glasshof said.
Krishnamoorthi's opponent, Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, spent much of the day in Elgin, meeting with about a dozen leaders of the city's sizable Laotian community for one of her events.
"I'm hearing what people's needs are and what different communities' needs are," Duckworth said. "We have to talk about the issues."
Issues brought up by leaders such as Alan Thavisouk of the Lao-American Organization of Elgin included bullying in schools, a lack of funding to address childhood obesity, and the Laotian community's desire to further expand cultural and educational programming.
Duckworth suggested the Laotian leaders collaborate with groups such as the Elgin's Rotary Club and said she would begin looking into possible grant funding for childhood obesity prevention. She said it's important to hear the concerns of smaller, insular communities that sometimes lack the connections and information to achieve their goals.
The campaign between Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi is leading up to a general election that promises to be sharply divided by political philosophy, as the winner takes on Tea Party Republican firebrand Joe Walsh.
By contrast, the 8th District Democratic primary has been marked by a remarkably civil debate.
Probably the biggest breach of its decorum was Duckworth's accusation a week and a half ago that Krishnamoorthi was breaking his stated opposition to Super PACs due to his supporters' creation of one called Suburban Voters for Choice.
Both Krishnamoorthi and the leaders of the political action committee said the candidate had no control over the group's activities, which the Duckworth campaign greeted with disbelief.
Though Super PACs are legal, Duckworth's deputy campaign manager Kaitlin Fahey said their secretive nature and ability to wield greater influence than a normal individual made them an unwelcome addition to American politics.
But Suburban Voters for Choice's treasurer, Mike Vainisi, said the Super PAC was committed to presenting only a positive message and helping to "level the playing field" against the "insider money" Duckworth had raised.
During the current election cycle, Duckworth has raised $1.28 million and Krishnamoorthi $1.15 million, according to their pre-primary reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
In the first two months of this year, Duckworth raised $335,449, of which $292,949 came from individuals and $42,400 from political action committees. During the same time period, Krishnamoorthi raised $139,642, of which $133,142 came from individuals and $6,500 from PACs.
But unlike normal PACs, Super PACs can spend unlimited amounts of money to promote a candidate, though they're not allowed to coordinate directly with the candidate.
For the most part, Duckworth, 43, and Krishnamoorthi, 38, differentiated themselves more by their varied qualifications and life experiences than by dramatic differences in philosophy.
Krishnamoorthi touted his background as the child of immigrants who earned both a mechanical engineering degree from Princeton and a law degree from Harvard before becoming deputy Illinois treasurer. Today, he is the president of a high-tech company and called himself the best candidate to help rebuild jobs and the economy.
Duckworth, who lost both legs in the Iraq War, became assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration. She said her life as a soldier gave her better insight into the wasteful spending of the federal government than most members of Congress would have seen.
Both Democrats, however, said they were not driven by partisan politics and intended to work collaboratively in Washington.
Krishnamoorthi spoke during the campaign of his efforts to engage incumbent Joe Walsh in dialogue during town-hall meetings, while Duckworth said people who equate politics with "war" are the least likely to have ever been in one.
The 8th Congressional District, redrawn by Democratic cartographers based on the 2010 census to be less friendly to Republican candidates, contains some of the most independent voting portions of Northwest Cook and DuPage counties. The district is centered in Schaumburg and stretches from Addison to Elgin, including parts of Addison, Bloomingdale, Dundee, Elgin, Barrington, Elk Grove, Hanover, Schaumburg and Wheeling townships.
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