Friday, September 01, 2006


With the November 7th elections rapidly approaching, a number of Illinois campaigns have moved into focus, making headlines and garnering national attention. A particularly compelling race is in the 6th Congressional district, where Republican State Senator Peter J. Roskam and Democrat Major Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth are vying for retiring Representative Henry Hyde's seat. Historically, the 6th has been tagged a Republican district, with 53% voting for President Bush in the 2004 Presidential election (versus 47% voting for Democrat John Kerry). However, with a rising Hispanic population and increased discontent due to the Iraq war, there is a potential for change.

Candidate Profiles

Prevailing frustration over the Iraq war has thus far played in Duckworth's favor, as her campaign strategy has focused on foreign policy and Homeland security. Duckworth is an Iraq war veteran who lost both of her legs in a grenade attack while piloting a Black Hawk helicopter north of Baghdad. Her experiences have given her national exposure, gaining endorsements from political heavyweights such as Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, appearing in national publications such as Time, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post, and announcing her candidacy on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Duckworth has also been criticized along with her primary supporter, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Representative Rahm Emanuel, for using extensive funding to compensate for her lack of experience.

Opposing Duckworth is State Senator Roskam, who has over thirteen years of legislative experience serving in both the Illinois State House of Representatives, and as an Illinois State Senator. Currently, he is the Illinois State Senate Minority Caucus Whip. His tenure has created a substantial voting record which allows voters to identify his stance on many domestic issues pertaining to Illinois and to the 6th district. His campaign focuses on taxes, the environment, and immigration, with the National Republican Campaign Committee mailing fliers to voters in the 6th district accusing Duckworth of considering the "repeal of federal tax cuts" and "amnesty for all illegal aliens." He has been attacked for advocating a decrease in frivolous law suits while specializing in personal injury law.

Path to the Election

Roskam (who has been endorsed by Hyde) ran unopposed in the Republican Primary, which saved his campaign money but cost him name recognition. Duckworth won a scant victory over Christine Cegelis (who had a strong base and ran a grassroots campaign) in the heated Democratic Primary, causing many to wonder if her support is solid enough to take the district. The race's notoriety has encouraged the involvement of National Republican Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and as of August both candidates have raised similar levels of funding--$1,883,983.00 for Duckworth and $1,867,756.00 for Roskam. Currently, the voters in the 6th Congressional District must decide whether they are willing to elect a candidate with military experience who has never held public office, or a candidate with legislative knowledge who lacks a substantial background in foreign policy. If Duckworth is able to make a comprehensive statement on local issues, she may have a chance at an unprecedented Democratic victory in the district. However, Roskam has the advantage of experience and a strong base of party support. In either case, although the campaigns will continue to draw debate on a national level, it is the voters who will decide on November 7th.

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