Rep. Joe Walsh skipping GOP convention

Tribune reporter

Controversial tea party-backed freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, in a tough race for re-election against Democrat Tammy Duckworth, said Thursday he would skip a visit to the Republican National Convention in Tampa at the end of next month.

“The conventions are nothing more than an excuse to mingle with insiders and party with the elite,” Walsh said in a statement. “This district does not want just another insider to represent them; they want an independent who will fight for real solutions to the issues.”

Walsh was not an Illinois delegate to the national presidential nominating convention, but incumbent congressmen have free rein to attend and often use the events to network and fundraise.

Recently, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, urged candidates in tough races to forgo trips to conventions to campaign in their districts. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, seeking re-election, is among the most prominent names to skip the Democratic National Convention scheduled the first week of September in Charlotte, N.C.

Walsh faces a difficult bid for a second term against Duckworth in the newly drawn, Democratic-leaning northwest suburban 8th Congressional District. In the April-through-June campaign fundraising period, Duckworth outraised Walsh by a better than two-to-one margin.

Duckworth, a former U.S. Veterans’ Affairs undersecretary, is an at-large delegate to the Democratic National Convention and still plans to attend, a top campaign aide said.

“Illinois Democrats have asked Tammy Duckworth to represent our state as a delegate and the party has also asked Tammy to serve as vice chair of the Rules Committee,” said Duckworth campaign manager Kaitlin Fahey.

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