The battle between Republican Representative Peter Roskam and Democratic challenger Sean Casten is becoming increasingly heated in the election’s final days, and interest in early voting in the race reflects the tight nature of the contest.
The sixth district race, closely watched at the national level as a barometer of the battle for control of the House, has inspired a steady stream of early voters at sites around northern Illinois, and both candidates are trying to appeal to voters in a variety of ways.
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Both candidates are especially trying to appeal to women, who wield a lot of political power in the district.
“It’s moms in the sixth district, who are by and large the guardians of civil discourse,” Rep. Roskam said. “Moms are not interested in people involved in the name-calling.”
Casten, who disagrees with Roskam on nearly every front, echoed those same sentiments.
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“It’s not lost on me that if you look at who is driving all this grassroots energy, it’s a lot of 50-to-75 year-old women,” he said.
The battle for votes is becoming so heated that the candidates are even fighting in court over the content of yard signs. A judge disagreed with a recent court challenge by Roskam over signs that read “Roskam is Against Gun Reform,” and allowed those signs to be distributed by a group called Illinois Citizens Ignited.
“Roskam continues to say that he refused to ban assault weapons,” Casten said. “Why do you possibly need an assault weapon if you don’t plan on assaulting somebody?”
Roskam pushed back against that assertion, saying that a blanket ban on assault weapons could have unintended consequences.
“The problem with banning so-called ‘assault weapons’ is many times it’s the definition of those that take in just normal hunting rifles,” he said.
The race, too close to call at this stage, will culminate in the general election on Nov. 6, and could help determine which party controls the House heading into the next presidential election in 2020.
Note: The original version of this story said that the "Roskam Opposes Gun Reform" signs were distributed by the Casten campaign. It has since been corrected to identify the group behind the signs as "Illinois Citizens Ignited."