Republican Congressman Joe Walsh is pointing to recent out-of-town fundraising by his 8th District opponent to say that Democrat Tammy Duckworth has weak suburban ties. Duckworth is pushing back, noting that more than 10,000 individuals who each contributed $100 or less to her campaign is a "testament to her grass-roots support."
Overall, Duckworth raised $334,567 during the first quarter of the year and Walsh raised $266,213 in one of the key Congressional matchups in the nation. The race is at the very top of The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's list of "key races" it hopes will help Democrats take back the House majority.
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It will also be nationally funded, an analysis of campaign finance filings shows. Duckworth's war chest is boosted by wealthy Democratic donors from around the country, and Walsh gains from the political action committees of the same Republican leaders he has clashed with on issues throughout his 16 months in office.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Walsh, of McHenry, received $144,000 from political action committees between Jan. 1 and March 31. Among them were the committees affiliated with House GOP leadership members dedicated to maintaining a Republican majority in 2012, $4,000 from the Friends of John Boehner Political Action Committee, and $15,000 from the Every Republican is Crucial Political Action Committee (ERICPAC), the committee associated with Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Walsh received another $117,213 from individuals, largely from Illinois.
Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, a former assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration, got $87,000 from political action committees and another $247,567 from individual donors from around the country, quarterly filings show.
Duckworth -- who ran against Republican Peter Roskam in the 6th Congressional District in 2006 -- has had several donors reach their $5,000 limit on individual contributions to her, including stockbroker Edward Hart Rice of Vienna, Va.; Rick and Wendy Aversano of Newport Beach, Calif., founders of Qtera data transmission company; and Marcie Love of Evanston.
Walsh says his fundraisers are largely local but criticized an April 25 fundraiser for Duckworth at the home of Pat and Sandy Gage in Los Angeles, Calif., where supporters paid between $2,500 and $500 apiece to attend.
Trying to contrast Duckworth's ties to top national Democrats with what he characterizes as his own ties to the local community is a key strategy of Walsh's.
Duckworth, in return, seeks to paint Walsh's "extremism" as being out of touch with residents of the 8th District, which is centered around Schaumburg and includes portions of Cook, Kane and DuPage counties.
Republican Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, of Wheaton, hosted a fundraiser for Walsh in Barrington Hills March 13, with attendees each asked to give or raise between $500 and $5,000 to attend.
The exact amount raised at either of those fundraisers will not be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission until later this year.
When asked for comment about Walsh's criticism of Duckworth's fundraising tactics, Duckworth spokeswoman Kaitlin Fahey released a statement: "As testament to Tammy's grass-roots support, she has had over 10,000 individuals contribute to her campaign, over 90 percent of whom gave $100 or less in the first quarter."
Walsh and Duckworth will debate for the first time at 6 p.m. Friday on CLTV. The debate will also be available on WGNTV.com and on CLTV.com.
People can suggest questions for the candidates in advance via Twitter @politicstonight or Facebook at facebook.com/politicstonight.