Candidates vying for the 8th Congressional District next fall haven't courted the Schaumburg Business Association yet.
But President Kaili Harding says they'd be wise to.
Harding said current 8th District U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, has established a solid working relationship with local businesses during her time in office.
The second-term congresswoman, who spoke Wednesday at an SBA luncheon at Chandler's Chophouse in Schaumburg, has "paid close attention to the need for a sustainable labor pipeline" as well as focusing on women within the business world, Harding said. Duckworth is making a bid for U.S. Senate against Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin and several others in the party's March 15 primary. The winner will take on Highland Park Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in his bid for a second term.
While the group does not endorse candidates, it does rely on a strong relationship with whoever is ultimately elected.
"We're eager to see those who step forward to replace her," Harding said. "She's done an exemplary job in reaching out to us, to businesses in the community."
Duckworth appeared as part of the SBA's ongoing legislative forum series.
Noting Democrats are in the minority in Congress during a time of ongoing legislative gridlock, Duckworth said she recognized early on that "anything that has my name on it is not going to come up for a vote."
Duckworth said she's learned to get around that gridlock by making good friends on the other side of the aisle. "I'm willing to take my name off legislation because we need to pass it," she said.
She said she recently worked with congressman Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, on several business-oriented components to be included in the national defense budget.
She told the group she is open to reforming the tax code, but wants to see breaks given not just to large corporations, but to those "in the middle as well."
Villa Park Mayor Bullwinkel on Tuesday added her name to the list of candidates seeking the party's nomination for the 8th District seat. The Democratic primary race also includes businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and state Sen. Mike Noland of Elgin.
On the Republican side, Schaumburg attorney and disability activist Andrew Straw has announced a bid, and former Elmhurst Mayor Pete DiCianni is weighing one.
The 8th Congressional District is centered in Schaumburg and includes portions of Kane, DuPage and Cook counties.
Duckworth spent Wednesday morning at Harper College in Palatine, where she tested out a virtual welding program and met with President Kenneth Ender about co-hosting an event with the school to attract business leaders from the area and beyond.