How 6th District Congressional candidates grade Trump's performance

Both Republican candidates seeking to square off against 6th District U.S. Rep. Sean Casten give President Donald Trump an "A" grade - on some elements of his presidency.

Both praise his support of the military. But there are differences between how Gordon "Jay" Kinzler and Jeanne Ives sum up Trump's performance as they campaign before the March 17 GOP primary.

Kinzler, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and a kidney transplant surgeon, praised Trump for authorizing raises for military members and said troop morale is higher now than it was under President George Bush or President Barack Obama.

"President Trump has the back of our military people more than his predecessors," Kinzler said.

He also praised Trump's economic policies, which he said have been beneficial to address unemployment.

Where Kinzler, 61, distances himself from Trump is in what the candidate called the president's "name-calling" and "divisive" nature.

"That's not the way that I deal with people in my line of work," Kinzler said.

Instead, Kinzler, who has been a member and president of the Glen Ellyn park board, says his approach is one of team-building and looking for common ground. He says he would govern that way if he advances out of the Republican primary and beats first-term Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove in the Nov. 3 general election.

So while he gave Trump an "A+" for his military support, Kinzler hesitated from giving an overall letter grade to Trump's three years in office during an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald.

"But the net result has been good as far as people being able to afford better quality of life," to secure jobs, access health care, pay for children's education and even take vacations, Kinzler said. "So there's a lot of pluses that I've been pretty impressed with him, but particularly with his support for the military."

Ives, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, also praised Trump's approach to the military and his desire to "extract our troops from entanglements that we should not be involved in that have gone on too long."

But she gave the president an "A" grade more broadly than Kinzler, saying it applies for all of Trump's policy stances.

Ives, 55, of Wheaton, said Trump's record of continuing economic improvement after the Great Recession, rolling back regulations on businesses, taking a tougher stance in trade relations with China, working to bring jobs back to America and reforming tariffs all have been positives.

"You can't argue with him on the economy. I think it's great what he's done in foreign policy by making our allies actually be partners who come to the table and do their fair share," said Ives, who served three terms as a state representative. "So that's a good thing."

Democrats, however, have wanted Trump out office since Day 1, Ives said. And that has led to "blowback."

"He has not responded as I think a president should in many instances. He should have taken the higher road in many cases," Ives said. "So I don't think he gets a very good grade for that. But I cannot argue with him on policy, and I am a policy person."

Ives, herself, has drawn some blowback for a TV ad during her 2018 Republican primary campaign against then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, which leaders from both parties criticized as being racist, sexist and homophobic.

But she has said her campaign against Rauner is one sign of her commitment to stand up against policies she does not agree with, whether they originate from her party or the opposing party.

Ives or Kinzler will earn the chance after the primary to face Casten in November, when voters will choose the next representative for the wide-ranging 6th District.

The district makes an arc in the shape of a C from Hinsdale and Naperville through Elgin to just beyond Long Grove and the Barrington area. It includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. Casten is the first Democrat to represent the district since 1972.

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