Senate debate dives into racism, political corruption, lake levels and COVID-19

  • Republican Mark Curran, left, and Democrat Dick Durbin are candidates for the U.S. Senate.

    Republican Mark Curran, left, and Democrat Dick Durbin are candidates for the U.S. Senate.

 
 
Updated 10/25/2020 7:30 PM

Illinois' five candidates for U.S. senator in the Nov. 3 election laid out their positions on a variety of hot-button issues at a Sunday debate on NBC 5.

The Green Party's David Black, Republican Mark Curran, Libertarian Danny Malouf and independent Willie Wilson are challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Moderator Carol Marin asked Durbin if powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan should step down as the state's Democratic Party chairman. In July, ComEd admitted to bribery to get laws passed in exchange for patronage deals with cronies of Madigan, who denies any wrongdoing.

"Even Mike Madigan is entitled to a presumption of innocence," said Durbin, of Springfield. "Let's wait and see if he is charged with a crime -- that is a serious matter and I would consider at that moment he should step aside as party chair."

Curran, former Lake County sheriff, was asked by Marin if he regretted saying Black Lives Matter is an "evil entity." The question came a day after local Black Lives Matter members rallied in Waukegan following the fatal shooting of Marcellis Stinnette, 19, and the wounding of his girlfriend by a police officer Tuesday. Both are Black.

"Black Lives Matter is essentially a Marxist organization, two of the three founders were avowed Marxists," Curran said, adding BLM "has stood for defunding the police."

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"I have a lot of support in the Black community," Curran added. "There's no Black support for Sen. Durbin. My former jail chief was the head of the NAACP. I've supported Blacks."

Durbin retorted "Mr. Curran subscribes to virtually every crackpot conspiracy theory that comes down the road."

Wilson, a Chicago resident who recently recovered from COVID-19, said the pandemic has "been handled the wrong way," by President Donald Trump.

"When it first came out, people were saying you don't have to wear face masks. After it got going, they said, you have to have face masks. The problem was, there was a shortage of face masks in the United States," he said.

Black, of Rockford, warned about rising lake levels. "I believe it is due to mostly to climate change. The lake has gone up and down over the years but it is much, much too high. If we don't take action ... we're going to be in a real crisis," he said.

When asked if preexisting conditions need to be part of a national health plan, Malouf disagreed.

"I don't think we need a national health plan, that's why health care is so unaffordable," he said. "We need to get the federal government out of health insurance."

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