GOP candidates for 6th Congressional District seat talk abortion and more in online forum

Five of the six Republicans running for Illinois' 6th Congressional District seat shared their opinions on abortion, voting rights and other issues during an online forum Tuesday night.

Their stances on many issues - particularly abortion, which all said they opposed - were similar. Conversely, they all backed requiring voters to provide photo IDs before casting ballots.

But the candidates differed on some topics, such as the extent to which they support Ukraine as it fights Russia's invasion.

The Republican candidates in the June 28 primary are: Niki Conforti of Glen Ellyn; former school board member Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn; Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso; Scott Kaspar of Orland Park; Oak Lawn resident Catherine A. O'Shea, who ran for the 3rd District seat in 2020; and Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau.

All but Kaspar participated in the forum, which was sponsored by several League of Women Voters groups.

Moderator Patti Lackman asked questions that had been suggested by the public.

An early question that led to some disagreement among the candidates concerned the war in Ukraine.

Grasso said he supports the U.S. efforts to help Ukraine. "It is in our best interests," he said.

Pekau had a similar stance. But Conforti said the U.S. should have done more to help Ukraine sooner.

On the other hand, O'Shea said the U.S. should support Ukraine only "at a distance."

"We can't take care of the world," she said.

Cruz said he supports a humanitarian response but opposes a proxy war with Russia.

Conforti broke from the pack when the candidates were asked about whether campaign finance reform is needed in the U.S. Most said it was; Cruz and O'Shea went so far as to call for an end to political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited cash as long as they don't coordinate directly with candidates.

But Conforti noted courts have ruled political donations are constitutionally protected as free speech, and she said the government should have only limited involvement when it comes to campaign financing rules.

The newly redrawn 6th District includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties.

Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove serves the 6th now and is facing two challengers in his party's primary: U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange, who now represents the 3rd District, and Chicagoan Charles M. Hughes.

The Democratic candidates will have an online forum hosted by the same groups Wednesday night. It's set to run from 7 to 8 p.m. on Zoom.

Registration is required and can be completed at

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