Candidates with much in common hold debate

March 10, 2012 9:10:03 PM PST
The battle for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District played out in a debate Saturday.

The candidates,Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi, laid out their plans for job creation and how they plan to beat the incumbent Republican Joe Walsh.

The candidates are similar in so many ways. Both are Asian-Americans from Hoffman Estates who were raised in poverty and rose to prominence. Both lost at the polls the last time they ran for office. And both have close ties to President Obama.

Saturday, they sought to draw distinctions on the issue of job creation.

Former deputy state treasurer Krishnamoorthi highlighted his experience running a small business.

"I'm on the front lines of this economic crisis each and every single day, trying to meet payroll every couple weeks, trying to get loans from banks unwilling to make them," Krishnamoorthi said. "That experience would be invaluable in Congress."

But Iraq War veteran Duckworth said her work as a veterans affairs official both in Springfield and Washington has prepared her for Congress.

"Those experiences in D.C. working with people from across this nation really has prepared me to serve you in Washington," Duckworth said.

Though Duckworth, who ran for Congress once before, may have more name recognition, Krishnamoorthi joked that his name is the longest.

He also touts the number of letters and words in his economic plan.

"We have a comprehensive detailed plan," he said. "It's not just sound bites, which I think are not what we need right now."

"We are very similar on the issues," Duckworth said. "The biggest difference is I have the experience to actually execute. I've been very successful both at the state level and at the federal level.

Whichever Democrat wins the March 20 primary, they will square off with Tea Party Republican Walsh, who despite being the incumbent, is running in the newly-drawn 8th District.

"We are massively in debt right now, and we're not working," Walsh said. "Everything this President's done has made things worse. Whether it's Tammy or Raja, they're right there with him."

"It's going to be brutal," said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington. "Joe Walsh is a darling of the Tea Party, and they're going to put a lot of resources and attention in this race, especially because it's in Obama country.

The rhetoric in this Democratic primary, however, has been rather civil, though during the debate, Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi traded blows on the issue of campaign financing.

"He's going to have to answer to the voters why he has a super PAC," Duckworth said.

"Tammy has received tremendous PAC money from Washington DC, more than a $100,000, and it's not just from organized labor," Krishnamoorthi said.

Those endorsing Duckworth include Sen. Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Tribune. Krishnamoorthi has the endorsement of several Cook and DuPage county officials.