Axelrod backs Duckworth in 8th District race

September 22, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Axelrod says her opponent in the race is making a very expensive "mistake."

The new, remapped 8th District is made up of suburbs northwest and west of the city, and it now includes more than a half-dozen new suburbs.

Axelrod says it is not his business to tell Tammy Duckworth's opponent what to do, as he stopped just short of telling that candidate to get out the 8th District Democratic primary race for Congress. The president's top political strategist helped raised money for Duckworth in downtown Chicago Thursday.

"I know that Tammy is going to be in the forefront of fighting for the kinds of policies that will create the best future for people in the 8th District," Axelrod said Thursday.

The former White House advisor -- and leading strategist for the Obama re-election effort -- appeared with candidate Duckworth on a pivotal day in the 8th Congressional District campaign. Wednesday, Republican Congressman Joe Walsh announced that he would not run for re-election in the 8th, a district that was remapped earlier this year to favor Democrats.

So, more of the questions for Axelrod and Duckworth were focused on Raja Krishnamoorthi, Duckworth's primary opponent for the Democratic nomination.

"I'm running this race on the issues. I'm going to talk about jobs, talk about the economy, talk about infrastructure development. I'll just let Raja decide what he wants to do," said Axelrod.

Krishnamoorthi responded to Axelrod's comment that the young lawyer and businessman had made a mistake by running against Duckworth.

"I got into this race before any other candidate back in late May, and I think what is a mistake is for Washington party elders to pick favorites among candidates in my community," said Krishnamoorthi.

Krishnamoorthi was endorsed last weekend by U.S. Congressman Danny Davis and months ago by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

"He's a strong candidate, he's going to work very hard," said Preckwinkle. "He's raised a credible amount of money. I think he's gonna be a strong candidate."

Axelrod said his endorsement should not be taken as a White House endorsement of war hero Duckworth, who lost both legs when the helicopter she piloted was shot down in Iraq.

Until Wednesday in the primary campaign both Democrats focused on Walsh. Now he is gone and they will have to talk about each other.

"The topics that were important to raise yesterday are still important to raise today," Duckworth said. "That's what I've always talked about."

"What I'm focused on," said Krishnamoorthi, "and I think what everyone should be focused on, is how do we revive this economy?"

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