In an exclusive Ward Room interview Tuesday, Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Democratic candidate running for the 8th Congressional District House seat currently held by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, positioned himself as an advocate for middle class families.
“I’m offering fresh ideas and perspectives on a number of issues of importance to the middle class and I think that having kind of a depth and specificity to our plans and proposals allows me to engage the other side in constructive movement toward soving those problems,” Kirshnamoorthi said. “I mean that’s the reason why a lot of people are supporting us.”
During the interview, Krishnamoorthi championed a federal minimum wage hike, bolstered Social Security and Medicare programs and increased college affordability as ways to strengthen the middle class. However, the Democrat said a college affordability plan would require “good old fashioned cutting” to oil and gas industry subsidies and certain military programs, among other things.
He specifically credited the college affordability plan put forth in Tennessee, a decidedly red state. That plan ensures that every high school student who receives a minimum GPA and meets other standards has access to a free community college education. That program is funded by the state lottery.
“That is the biggest no-brainer I’ve ever heard of and that's a Republican state that's leading the way,” Krishnamoorthi said. “And so if a Republican state is leading the way in that particular way, I’ve got to believe America can move forward on this issue.”
Krishnamoorthi also wants to create jobs in renewable energy and tech spaces, something he’s familiar with from his work as president of Sivananthan Labs & Episolar Inc., which develops and sells products in the national security and renewable energy industry.
Aside from his work at Sivananthan, the Democrat has served as Illinois’ deputy treasurer and was appointed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to serve as Special Attorney General in her Public Integrity Unity in 2006. In 2012, Krishnamoorthi lost to Duckworth in the 8th Congressional District’s Democratic primary. Krishnamoorthi claimed his experience in both the private and public sectors is a great benefit to his campaign.
Additionally, Krishnamoorthi was critical of his opponent, Pete DiCianni, claiming the Republican’s positions lack specificity. DiCianni is the former mayor of Elmhurst and a current DuPage County Board member.
“There’s a couple differences,” Krishnamoorthi said. “One is that if you look at our ideas and proposals, there’s kind of a depth and specificity to my positions and proposals that you’re not going to find with my opponent. And I think that matters because, as I mentioned, the challenges that face the middle class and working families are complicated and so you have to have some understanding of those challenges and different approaches in order to be a constructive member of Congress."
Krishnamoorthi and DiCianni have debated a federal minimum wage hike during the campaign, according to the Daily Herald. DiCianni has said that he’s open to raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10, while Krishnamoorthi is actively pushing an increase to $10.10 or higher. Nevertheless, Krishnamoorthi credited some members of the GOP for supporting a minimum wage increase.
"Believe it or not, a majority of Republicans support increasing the minimum wage,” Krishnamoorthi said. “And so we have to figure out where can we find common ground with Republicans on this issue and take those first steps as soon as possible.”
With just two weeks until Election Day, Krishnamoorthi is in full campaign mode, riding a wave of notable endorsements from the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, President Barack Obama and Rep. Duckworth, his former opponent.
The DiCianni campaign did not respond to Ward Room's request for comment on this story.