Ward Room Campaign Round-Up: Duckworth Shifts Attention to Kirk in Senate Race | NBC Chicago
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Ward Room Campaign Round-Up: Duckworth Shifts Attention to Kirk in Senate Race

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    Ward Room's Campaign Round-Up is a weekly post dedicated to keeping voters informed about the state and county's upcoming 2016 elections. Check the Ward Room blog for continued coverage every Wednesday.

    Illinois Senate

    Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Urban League CEO and President Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris will face off in the March 15 primary for the Democratic nomination for Mark Kirk's U.S. Senate seat.

    Duckworth, who currently represents Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, released a campaign ad featuring former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The ad deals largely with foreign policy and the Syrian refugee crisis.

    “I think Tammy Duckworth has a very good plan for how we deal with the greatest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II,” Albright said in the ad.

    In the ad, Albright claims the refugees are not a threat to American security and the country has a thorough screening process to filter out potential enemies.

    Kirk released an ad in December of last year titled “Big Differences” claiming Duckworth “wants to bring 200,000 Syrian refugees to America.”

    Duckworth had signed a letter asking the Obama administration to resettle 200,000 refugees by the end of 2016. Only 100,000 of those refugees were to come from Syria.

    Kirk’s ad also warned of a potential ISIS attack on American soil and asked, “for your family’s safety, who do you trust?”

    Albright slammed Kirk’s ad for appealing to American’s fears of another terrorist attack.

    “Senator Kirk’s commercial is pure demagoguery operating on the basis of the fear factor and I think that is a very, very dangerous approach because we got into the war in Iraq as a result of the fear factor and it was based on the wrong information,” Albright said.

    Albright also voiced concern over Kirk’s voting to authorize the Iraq war.

    “I think the war in Iraq was one of the biggest mistakes that this country made,” Albright said. “It was based on the wrong information and as people worked in order to get us into that war, the claims became more and more exaggerated and Mark Kirk was one of those who helped to exaggerate.”

    Duckworth and Kirk have previously sparred over the issue of radicalized refugees.

    During a Chicago Tribune endorsement session, Duckworth insinuated that Kirk’s policies encouraged radicalized Iraqi refugees in Texas.

    “They came as teenagers and they were radicalized because they were on those talk lines with ISIS because they see people like Mark Kirk demonizing Muslim and Islam and wanting to shut down our borders,” Duckworth said. “That’s how we turn people against us, is when we play right into ISIS’ hands.”

    Kirk responded to Duckworth’s claims on the John Howell Show, calling Duckworth “a naive fool not fit for office in the Senate.”

    Zopp was endorsed by the Chicago Sun-Times last week.

    "We believe Zopp has what it takes to be highly effective in the U.S. Senate, where the rules of power and advancement are as arcane as in any boardroom," the board wrote. "She is well equipped to again work the levers, this time on behalf of Illinois and the nation."

    The Sun-Times endorsement also noted, "either Zopp or Duckworth would be a credible challenger against incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk in the November general election."

    According to recent polls, Duckworth has established a sizable lead in the race for the Democratic nomination.

    A poll conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies between Feb. 4-7, found Duckworth received 64 percent of support while Zopp received 6 percent and Harris received 3 percent.

    The poll was conducted for Harris. The Sun-Times noted that, politically, the former NFL star is "not in the same league as Zopp or Duckworth."

    An additional poll, conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, found Duckworth receiving 52 percent of support from self-identified Democrats with Zopp receiving 6 percent and Harris receiving 4 percent.

    Sen. Mark Kirk condemned an ad campaign paid for by a Democratic Political Action Committee that accuses him of "unprecedented obstructionism" and "putting politics over people" in the wake of the debate surrounding the recent Supreme Court vacancy.

    The ad is seemingly in response to Kirk's somewhat delayed decision to support moving forward with confirmation hearings to replace recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. A tweet from the Senate Majority PAC sharing the ad referenced a Chicago Sun-Times editorial from earlier this month that claimed Kirk was "busily calculating the political fallout" and had "failed to take any kind of stand" on the matter.

    Kirk broke with Republican lawmakers Monday to support moving forward with the process to nominate and confirm a new Supreme Court justice under President Barack Obama.

    This week Kirk has pushed for a convicted burglar and cyberstalker to be deported back to China.

    Jicheng Liu was sentenced to eight years in prison after being found with 300 stolen packages and over 80 garage door openers.

    Kirk is lobbying the Department of Homeland Security to deport Liu back to China in order to stop the convicted felon from seeking political asylum in the U.S.

    Kirk will face Oswego businessman James Marter in the March 15 Republican primary.

    Cook County State’s Attorney

    Incumbent Anita Alvarez faces former Assistant State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and former federal and state prosecutor Donna More in the March 15 Democratic primary for Cook County State’s Attorney.

    Alvarez and her husband, Dr. James Gomez, loaned her campaign $200,000 in the lead-up to the highly contested primary.

    Gomez helped finance Alvarez’s initial run for state’s attorney eight years ago, donating $640,000. Alvarez’s campaign fund has repaid all but $33,500 of that initial donation.

    Alvarez has raised over $1.3 million over the past 14 months. A large bulk of these donations has come from construction trade unions.

    Foxx, a former assistant state’s attorney who is posing a formidable challenge to Alvarez’s re-election, has received campaign contributions totaling $1.38 million.

    Billionaire George Soros has donated $220,000 to the Illinois Safety and Justice Super PAC that is backing Foxx’s campaign.

    The campaign fund for Foxx’s former boss, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, has also donated $50,000 to her campaign.

    Foxx previously served as Preckwinkle's chief of staff.

    Foxx was fined nearly $20,000 Monday by the Illinois State Board of Elections after missing a variety of deadlines for filing campaign disclosure forms and failing to report a substantial donation from Cook County Board President Preckwinkle.

    In February, the Illinois State Board of Elections ruled unanimously that Foxx violated campaign finance law by not disclosing a $25,000 donation from Preckwinkle. The donation was used to pay for a campaign poll.

    Foxx is also being fined for filing a quarterly campaign report 73 days late and for reporting 10 individual contributions of $1,000 or more one day late.

    Nevertheless, Foxx has received endorsements from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune.

    More has also raised over $1 million in funding. The bulk of these donations, $530,000, are self-funded. More reportedly added another $200,000 to her own coiffeurs Tuesday.

    Christopher Pfannkuche will run uncontested on the Republican ticket.

    8th Congressional District

    Former Illinois Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi will face state Sen. Mike Noland and Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel in the March 15 Democratic primary for Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s soon-to-be-vacated 8th District House seat.

    The 8th Congressional District includes Elk Grove Village, Schaumburg, Elgin and a western portion of O’Hare International Airport.

    This week, Krishnamoorthi was endorsed by the United Hellenic Voters of America and the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

    Krishnamoorthi has also received endorsements from the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald, among others.

    According to a live poll taken February 9-11, Krishnamoorthi garnered 41 percent of support with Noland receiving 27 percent and Bullwinkel receiving 5 percent. 26 percent of respondents were undecided. The poll was administered to likely Democratic voters in the 8th district by GBA Strategies.

    Krishnamoorthi is also beating his Democratic opponents in fundraising. According to federal campaign records, he had over a million dollars on hand at the end of last year.

    In comparison, Noland had over $64,000 on hand at the end of last year and Bullwinkel had $14,000.

    The Democratic candidates squared off on Chicago Tonight Tuesday, discussing how they differ from Duckworth.

    Krishnamoorthi praised Duckworth’s work with constituents and elected officials.

    “[Duckworth] has done an excellent job at constituent services, which is an important part of the job,” Krishnamoorthi said. “She’s also been in very close contact with all of the elected officials of the district to find out what their needs and wants are, which is something I would respectfully like to do should I be elected the next member of Congress from this area.”

    Noland voiced concerns over the Affordable Care Act and suggested a shift to a single-payer model.

    “Where I differ from [Duckworth] is our belief that we need to be a little bit more aggressive with respect to answering some of the requirements under the Affordable Care Act,” Noland said. “I’d like to see us perhaps shift to a single-payer universal health care. I think she would have taken a more graduated approach to that. So, I’d like to see us … make health care a right and not so much a privilege.”

    Bullwinkel lauded Duckworth’s accessibility to her constituents.

    “[Duckworth] has made herself available,” Bullwinkel said. “That is one of the things I will hope to have the opportunity to follow along in her tradition – being accessible and available to the people of the 8th Congressional District.”

    The candidates also faced off in a radio debate Monday. During the debate, the three formed a unified front against presidential candidate Donald Trump and his proposed policies.

    "The Donald Trump way of doing business is not the way I would ever do business," Bullwinkel said in reference to Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented residents. "It's embarrassing that it's even being discussed."

    Krishnamoorthi condemned the Trump campaign’s demagoguery.

    "You are as much an American as everyone else," Krishnamoorthi said in response to a question about Muslim rights. "Donald Trump has really appealed to the worst instincts among Americans."

    Noland also denounced Trump and lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform.

    "We have to make it clear we're not going to exclude people based on religion," Noland said.

    Pete DiCiani is running unopposed on the Republican ballot.

    10th Congressional District

    Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering will face former Rep. Brad Schneider in the Democratic primary for incumbent Bob Dold’s 10th District House seat.

    Schneider and Rotering appeared in a debate in Highland Park Sunday.

    The debate was sponsored by League of Women Voter organizations from Highland Park, Highwood, Deerfield, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Glencoe and Glenview.

    During the debate, Schneider lauded the Affordable Care Act but called for more consumer options under the program. He also acknowledged the need to make the law more adaptive.

    "In the last six years, technology has changed and our system for the delivery of health care has changed," he said. "Our laws are always going to have to be dynamic in order to match these changes."

    Rotering agreed that the passage of the Affordable Care Act was a watershed achievement.

    "To me, the passage of the Affordable Care Act was one of the greatest things that has happened in the last 10 years and I appreciate all of the hard work that went into it,” Rotering said. “By the same token, there are still challenges. The costs continue to rise."

    The two Democratic candidates also agreed on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures from nonprofit corporations.

    "Citizens United, I believe, will be regarded by history as one of the worst decisions this Supreme Court, or any Supreme Court, has ever made," Schneider said. "It is distorting our political process and corrupting our government."

    Schneider and Rotering both called for a constitutional amendment to end Citizens United.

    “It is impossible for most people to run for office because of the financial demands they have to meet,” Rotering said. “The amount of time that needs to go into raising funds for this office, or any office is ludicrous. This is a disservice to all of us. It is a disservice to democracy."

    Dold is running unopposed on the Republican ballot.