Illinois' Democratic U.S. Senate candidates debate for first time

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For the first time, the three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mark Kirk faced off in a debate. (WLS)

For the first time, the three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mark Kirk faced off in a debate.

The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board hosted the session where, among other issues, the candidates debated who could best represent the working class families of Illinois.

"I truly think that families like mine that work hard every single day need a break, and they're not getting it," said Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

Former Urban League president Adrea Zopp insisted she could do better.

"No other candidate in this race has the breadth of experience that I have on issues that matter to working families," Zopp said.

State Senator Napoleon Harris, the former pro-football player who grew up in a single parent home, said he was the best candidate to represent working families.

"What sets me apart is as a young man from the South Side of Chicago I know all these issues too well," Harris said.

Duckworth, the northwest suburban Congresswoman endorsed by the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, has raised the most money so far in the race. Harris, from the heavily Democratic south suburbs, is the late comer to the race. Zopp, who has never held public office, called her opponents 'ineffective politicians.'

"We have an epidemic of inaction from our elected officials," Zopp said.

"She's entitled to her opinion but the only opinion that matters are those of the voters on Election Day and the constituents that I've been serving for all these years," Duckworh said.

The most contentious moments during the session happened after Zopp said Harris and Duckworth had not spoken out on the Laquan McDonald police shooting:

"He's been largely silent on this critical issue facing our community as has Congresswoman Duckworth," she said.

"I've been at this issue my whole life because I've been in the community talking to people who directly this impacts," Harris countered, which led to a tense exchange.

"On this particular issue, LaQuan McDonald. What did you do?" Zopp asked.

"Seems to me you should have run for State's Attorney. You're running in the wrong race," Harris replied.

Congresswoman Duckworth stayed out of it and said later she's focused on Republican incumbent Mark Kirk and wished her primary opponents would do the same.

"The more candidates we have talking about how poor a job Mark Kirk is doing is better for all of us," she said.

Rep. Duckworth is endorsed by the U.S. Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, Zopp by Rev. Jesse Jackson and other African-American leaders and Harris by Illinois Senate president John Cullerton and powerful south suburban Democratic Party officials.

Related Topics:
politicssenate2016 electiontammy duckworthmark kirkChicago - Downtown
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