The two Democrats vying to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh tried Wednesday to both identify with and reject the tea party advocates who back the firebrand congressman.
“There are a lot of tea party folks in our district,” former deputy state treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi told the Tribune editorial board. “They want folks who are on the front lines of this economic crisis every day… I’m able to talk to them in a very practical way.”
Iraq War vet Tammy Duckworth, a former federal veterans affairs official, said she understands the tea party’s ethic of “independence and self determination.”
“But I think they sometimes forget that what makes this nation so great … have been programs like the GI Bill, have been programs that help set the basis for people to grow and become successful,” Duckworth added.
Krishnamoorthi and Duckworth are opponents in the March 20 Democratic primary for the newly drawn 8th District, which covers much of northwest Cook and northeast DuPage counties.
In November, the winner faces Walsh in what’s sure to be a nationally-watched contest. A sitting congressman who has courted tea party support and spoken out against President Barack Obama’s agenda will be trying to win in a district drawn to favor a Democrat.
Both Democrats stressed Wednesday that government programs can be an effective tool in improving the lives of working and middle-class citizens — a position they said puts them at odds with many tea party advocates.
But Duckworth and Krishnamoorthi, both from Hoffman Estates, didn’t spar over policy points, saying they largely agree on those. Instead, they focused on their personal and professional histories.
Krishnamoorthi plays up his business background and work as a deputy state treasurer overseeing special loan and venture capital programs aimed at job creation. He is now president of a small suburban technology company.
“The number one issue facing my district and our country is, ‘How do we get this economy moving again?’” Krishnamoorthi said. “I have the experience to deal with this issue.”
Duckworth points to her work advocating for veterans while serving in top government posts in Illinois and Washington, managing multi-million dollar budgets and working with lawmakers.
Before being appointed as an assistant veterans affairs secretary under Obama, Duckworth headed the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“I’m willing to work as hard as I can … to find the practical solutions to our nation’s problems,” Duckworth said. “I’ve shown that throughout my time in state and federal government.”
The two Democrats are not new to voters. Krishnamoorthi narrowly lost the primary for state comptroller in 2010. Duckworth narrowly lost a 2006 suburban congressional bid. Each candidate has raised about $1 million while garnering key endorsements.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun