I’m voting for Tammy Duckworth for all the reasons presented in the Chicago Tribune’s endorsement. She's not wedded to Democratic Party politics, giving every appearance of someone who would be a moderate voice on Capitol Hill. But I question whether or not she really wants the job and whether the leadership of the Democratic Party wants her to win.
I've lived in Illinois' Sixth Congressional district for 13 years and this is, without a doubt, the most contested congressional race I've seen during my time here. Never before have more signs for a Democratic Congressional candidate been posted on the front lawns of so many residents. She’s the best candidate the Democrats have ever had in this District.
Peter Roskam is basically Henry Hyde Light while Duckworth is an entirely different candidate. She's hard to define, making her a candidate that's difficult to dismiss as simply a "liberal."
For the record, I’ve always voted for Henry Hyde. I didn’t always agree with his positions – abortion comes to mind as does the impeachment of Bill Clinton – but Henry was an excellent representative if the job is defined as working for the people he represented. What sold me on Henry was how he went to bat for the residents of Glen Ellyn whose houses are located near the train tracks.
One night, about 10 years ago, a Union Pacific freight train was parked on the tracks in the middle of Glen Ellyn. Its engine was running and one mother decided she’d had enough. The train’s engines were keeping her kids awake. So she walked out onto the tracks to talk to the engineer. She was killed by an oncoming train.
This tragedy, as might be expected, caused quite the uproar. There was a meeting between town officials and representatives from Union Pacific. Henry Hyde was there, too. Just by being there, Hyde changed the dynamic of the meeting and Union Pacific agreed to park its trains further up the tracks, away from the houses, and to turn off the engines. Henry forever earned my vote.
The problem with the Duckworth campaign is that it doesn't have any pizzazz. There's nothing sexy or unusual about this campaign. There are the customary campaign stops, debates, television ads, endorsements, and signs posted throughout the district. But that's it.
If Duckworth really wants the job, she needs to do something different. She needs to take a "walking tour" through the neighborhoods that she’d like to represent. I'm not belittling her war wounds. I'm suggesting, instead, that she do the unexpected, something different, that will help break longstanding habits among Sixth District voters. Maybe she's getting this advice from her political consultants. Maybe she isn't. I don't know.
To make matters worse, the Daily Herald reports that the Duckworth campaign is running out of money. As of September 30, it was down to just over $200,000 for the final month of the campaign. Compare that to Roskam’s war chest, which, as of October 1, had $1.5 million.
What this means is that Duckworth can’t afford the television ads. A new ad is now appearing on television and it’s paid for the Democratic Congressional Committee. It essentially slams Roskam. Nothing new there.
But other than taking over the television ads, where is the leadership of the Democratic Party? Here's a chance to represent a district which, heretofore, has been safely in Republican hands. Why aren't they making campaign stops with her? Why are they missing in action? Do they really want her to win? My worst fear is that Senator Durbin set her up to take a fall.
I can see why they might be worried about sending Rahm Emanuel or Nancy Pelosi out here, but certainly there are other, more moderate Democrats who could give her a helping hand. Senator Hillary Clinton could come here for day, maybe even her husband, someone who could give the campaign that extra push.
Or is the lack of an appearance from top party leaders indicative of today's politics? Is this just another way of telling Tammy and others that unless they tow the party line adinfinitum, forget it? They'll do nothing to help.