Seals, Kirk face off in only debate

CHICAGO Mark Kirk is the Republican incumbent in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois. His Democratic challenger is Dan Seals.

The district covers the north suburbs and includes Waukegan, Highland Park and Arlington Heights.

The candidates for the district faced off in Deerfield Sunday for their first and only debate. The race is a rematch from two years ago.

"He [Kirk] is too supportive of this president. Whether it was voting to protect predatory lenders, voting for these budgets that created record deficits, voting against equal pay for women, I think you need to do a better job of breaking away from your leadership," Seals said of his opponent.

"Congressional Quarterly rated my votes where the president took a position, and I opposed him 59 percent of the time. So, I can tell you as a pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-teacher Republican, I've got independence," said Kirk.

Although Kirk has maintained a substantial lead over the last few months in the polls, voter preferences could be changing.

According to data from a recent poll paid for by a respected Washington publication, Seals is leading 52 to 44 percent.

"Dan understands the economy, given his experience. He would use a common-sense, versus being a lapdog to the administration," said Seals supporter Stephanie Victor.

The poll is the first to show a Seals lead. The Democrat has, in recent weeks, filled the airwaves with negative campaign ads linking Kirk to President Bush. The most recent one features an Iraq war veteran blasting Kirk for voting in favor of the war. How much it has affected the campaign cannot be measured, and neither can the Obama affect be discounted. Seals has closely linked his campaign to Obama's, hoping to ride on the senator's coattails.

Kirk's campaign hopes that strategy will not succeed.

"We ran on the [Obama] ticket the last time, and we scored pretty high. So, we understand that there will be support for Obama, especially here in the 10th congressional District. But, I also think that there are a lot of people that will split their votes and take an Obama ticket and take a Kirk ticket," said Kirk campaign chairman Michael Morgan.

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