Democratic candidates in 6th Congressional District align on abortion but differ on campaign finance reform

  • From left, Sean Casten, Marie Newman and Charles Hughes are the Democrats running in the 6th Congressional District primary on June 28.

    From left, Sean Casten, Marie Newman and Charles Hughes are the Democrats running in the 6th Congressional District primary on June 28.

 
 
Updated 5/4/2022 8:26 PM

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove and the two fellow Democrats seeking his 6th District seat had their first public showdown Wednesday night, facing off virtually in an online forum.

It was a genial hour, with Casten, U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange and Chicagoan Charles M. Hughes answering questions about abortion, immigration, voting rights and other topics without taking significant swipes at each other.

 

It helped that they essentially agreed on most issues, including backing abortion rights and the United States' continued support of Ukraine against its Russian invaders.

At times, though, they differed in the details. For example, when asked about campaign finance reform, Casten said the federal government should match small-dollar donations from individuals, like the system in place in New York City. Hughes, on the other hand, wants to severely limit the money spent on campaigns, while Newman targeted corporate political action committees as a particular problem.

Newman, who is in her first term representing the 3rd District, has refused to take campaign donations from such groups, while Casten received tens of thousands of dollars from corporations in the year's first quarter, according to his most recent fundraising report.

The candidates also differed on health care.

Hughes, who unsuccessfully ran for the 3rd District seat in 2020, said people should get a federal tax credit to help pay for insurance premiums, and he supported creating a publicly funded insurance option.

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Newman said Medicare should expand.

Casten, who's in his second term, said people should have the option of private health insurance or a government-run plan.

The forum was hosted by several suburban League of Women Voters groups and moderated by a group member.

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

The 6th District Democratic primary is the only Illinois congressional race to feature two Democratic incumbents. Newman's home is in the new 4th District but is near the 6th.

Recordings of Wednesday's forum and one held Tuesday for Republican candidates in the 6th will be posted on the League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn's website, lwvge.org, and on YouTube.

The primary election is June 28. The general election is Nov. 8.

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