Bill Foster, the former Fermilab scientist and former Democratic congressman trying to unseat Republican Rep. Judy Biggert of Hinsdale, says that the spirit of bipartisanship has been all but "killed off" in Washington, D.C.
"Many of the moderate Republicans got wiped out in the primary, and many of the moderate Democrats like (former 8th District Democratic Congresswoman) Melissa Bean and myself and others got wiped out in the 2010 general election. So you're left with a situation where there almost is no center," said Foster, of Naperville.
Foster likened heading to Congress to "being sent to prison, where you have to join one gang or another in order to survive."
Foster's comments came on WBBM Newsradio 780-AM's "At Issue" program, a series of congressional interviews which are being produced in collaboration with the Daily Herald.
First elected in 2008, Foster was unseated in a 2010 re-election bid for the 14th District by Republican Randy Hultgren, of Winfield.
"It's an interesting experience to lose an election," he said. "You go through different phases of mourning."
Foster said he hopes to use his campaign in the new 11th District to have a "fact-based debate" with Biggert, a moderate, who has spent the past 13 years in Congress. He calls politicians' focus on spin the "biggest change in going from science to politics."
In a statement, Biggert spokesman Gill Stevens said: "Bipartisanship requires elected officials to lead from the middle, not just sit in the middle." He noted Biggert's record "shows that with the right leadership, bipartisanship is still possible in Washington. Judy has always put people before politics, and has the record of bipartisan accomplishments to prove it."
"At Issue" airs at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday on WBBM, as well as at 6 a.m. on 93XRT FM and 11 p.m. on 780-AM The Score.
Illinois' new 11th Congressional District is comprised of parts of Will, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Cook counties and stretches from the western suburbs to Aurora and Joliet.
Biggert is scheduled to be interviewed next month.