Elections 2012: The week in review

Here's a roundup of election news that was on The Chicago Reporter's political radar this week:

  • Democrats Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth pitched themselves on WTTW-CH 11 this week, explaining why they're best for the 8th District congressional seat. They'll be up against  Tea Party flamethrower and incumbent Joe Walsh, who moved to stay in the district, following last year's remapping. Krishnamoorthi and Duckworth admitted their politics aren't all that different: Both support socialized programs for the needy and government involvement in job creation, for example. Each candidates has also filled his and her campaign speeches with stories about their parents being on government subsidies, as a way to advocate for social safety nets. And both have focused their campaigns on lashing out at Walsh, a national favorite among the country's conservative sect. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in a helicopter accident. She ran, unsuccessfully, for Congress in 2006 and has also held positions with federal and state veteran's affairs offices. Her state position could be fodder for negative campaigning from Walsh because she was hired by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. As for Krishnamoorthi, he runs a technology company and is the son of Indian immigrants. He joins nine Indian-American candidates who are running for Congress nationwide. Currently, there are no Indian Americans on the Hill. Krishnamoorthi's  connection to Alexi Giannoulias, who oversaw the state's failed Bright Start college savings program as state treasurer, could come back to haunt him if Walsh's camp fires at him for it.
  • Race is not an issue in this race, claimed Tom Swiss, when discussing his bid for 10th District state representative with the Chicago Sun-Times this week. The Sun-Times asked Swiss about one of his campaign billboards on the West Side that features an African-American construction worker. Swiss is a white candidate running in the newly drawn 10th District, which is 50 percent black, 33 percent white and 12 percent Latino. Swiss told the Sun-Times the 10th District contest is a "socioeconomic issue" not a "race issue." "These guys are my guys," he added. Swiss said he is out canvassing door-to-door for votes and is not hiding his race. His opponent, incumbent Derrick Smith, said Swiss is "a Republican trying to hijack the Democratic primary." Swiss is the former director of the Cook County Republican Party and has said that he switched parties because it is virtually impossible for a Republican to win in Chicago. He also said that his run is not about party labels, as the real issues in Illinois are corruption and the state's fiscal woes.  As for Smith, he was appointed to fill Anazzette Collins' vacancy when she took over Rickey Hendon's 5th District state Senate seat last year. Swiss pointed out that Smith was fired from the city's Streets and Sanitation Department for using employees to do private work for him. The city has not confirmed that.
  • The 2nd District Congressional contest between longtime incumbent Jesse Jackson Jr. and Debbie Halvorson continues to pander to issues of race with each radio and TV commercial Jackson's camp releases, according to Halvorson. This week, Jackson's campaign released its first TV ad that features a snippet of Halvorson saying, "Standing up for Barack Obama is what caused me to lose my seat." Then a voice asks, "Did she just blame President Obama?" Halvorson, a former Crete congresswoman who lost her seat in the 2010 conservative sweep, said she was explaining that, regardless of the consequences, she would not have done anything different when it came to backing some Obama initiatives. In another Jackson radio ad, voices from several African Americans--two of whom are congresswomen--criticize Halvorson, who is white, for voting against Obama "88 times." "She's crazy!" one woman exclaims, after which another man says "Eighty-eight times against President Obama is 88 times too many. I'm sticking with Jesse." Halvorson has accused Jackson of making race a central issue in the contest, and she has criticized him of lying and distorting her record. Halvorson actually voted against Democratic leaders on 88 occasions, not against Obama-backed legislation. In fact, Obama expressed no opinion on some of the bills. According to Congressional Quarterly, Jackson actually voted against Obama-backed legislation more than twice as often as Halvorson.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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