Ward Room Campaign Round-Up: Democratic U.S. Senate Candidates Square Off

This is the third edition of Ward Room's Campaign Round-Up, 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 Race

US Rep. Tammy Duckworth participated in a Chicago Tribune editorial board endorsement session Monday with her counterparts in the democratic primary, State Sen. Napoleon Harris and former prosecutor Andrea Zopp. The three will face off in the March 15 Democratic primary.

Zopp, who was endorsed by Congressman Bobby L. Rush this week, accused Harris and Duckworth of being silent on the Laquan McDonald case.

McDonald was fatally shot by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014.

“I’ve been outspoken on the issue, called early on for the Department of Justice to come in and investigate Chicago Police Department pattern and practice,” Zopp said.

Harris admitted that he knew “nothing” about his opponents before defending his record.

“I think right now, for me, it’s about leadership,” Harris said. “It’s about knowing the issues, and I think we all have a grasp of what the issues are.”

Duckworth took the opportunity to discuss reforms to prison sentencing.

“We can’t throw away a huge percentage of our population and not give them an opportunity to succeed and to have an opportunity to move away from the conditions that led them to being in prison in the first place,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth also called out Senator Mark Kirk when asked about 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 the allegation on Twitter, saying, “[Tammy Duckworth] is a naive fool if she believes terrorists are inspired by lawmakers over Islamic ideology.”

Last week, Kirk received endorsements from several suburban township GOP organizations including Maine, New Trier, Evanston, Northfield, Barrington, Riverside and Leyden.

Kirk also received an A- rating from the National Education Association for his education policies last month.

The senator has recently called for a pause in the country’s initiative to welcome refugees from Syria.

“As long as the screening process is weak, Senator Kirk is calling for a pause in the program to ensure that those seeking to take advantage of our nation are stopped,” a Kirk aide told Ward Room.

Kirk also recently secured $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration initiative. The initiative combats invasive species, pollution and toxic contamination in the great lakes.

Kirk will face Oswego businessman James Marter in the March 15 Republican primary. Veteran’s party candidate Chris Aguayo will be included on the ticket for the general election.

8th Congressional District

A recent Public Policy Polling poll found that Illinois State Sen. Mike Noland is leading former Illinois Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi and Villa Park Mayor Deb Bullwinkel in the race for the Democratic nomination for Tammy Duckworth’s soon-to-be-vacated US House seat.

According to the poll, Noland received 22 percent of votes, Krishnamoorthi received 17 percent and Deb Bullwinkel received 11 percent. Fifty percent of voters were unsure who they would vote for.

This week, Krishnamoorthi was endorsed by the Daily Herald and the Sierra Club.

The Republican ticket includes Dupage County Commissioner and former mayor of Elmhurst Pete DiCianni.

High school teacher Bill Fraser, an Independent, will appear on the general ballot in November.

10th Congressional District

Nancy Rotering was endorsed this week by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Rep. Lou Lang and former Highland Park Mayor and State Rep. Dan Pierce.

Her opponent in the March 15 Democratic primary, Brad Schneider, received endorsements from the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Daily Herald.

Incumbent Bob Dold is running unopposed on the Republican ticket.

Cook County State’s Attorney

Incumbent Anita Alvarez remains the race’s Democratic frontrunner although she lost an important endorsement Tuesday.

Outcry over the Laquan McDonald shooting caused US Rep. Luis Gutierrez to withdraw his endorsement for Alvarez and endorse her rival, Kim Foxx, instead.

Gutierrez said he was not satisfied with Alvarez's handling of the police shooting death of McDonald. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was not charged with McDonald's murder until 14 months after the incident.

Foxx was also endorsed by the Daily Herald.

Donna More addressed the City Club of Chicago Wednesday calling Alvarez "a serial screw-up when it comes to high-profile cases." 

More pointed to the county's epidemic of violence and Alvarez's mishandling of high-profile cases as a reason for change. 

"So far this year 285 people have been shot and wounded and 64 have been shot and killed," More said. "We are a city and a county in a crisis of violence, fear and distrust."

Alvarez, Foxx and More will appear on the March 15 ballot for the Democratic nomination for Cook County State’s Attorney.

Christopher Pfannkuche will run uncontested on the Republican ballot.

Early Voting has begun in Illinois. Primary elections will be held March 15, general elections will be held Nov. 8. 

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