Tight race in Illinois’ 6th Congressional District may decide control of the House

WHEATON, Ill. -- In Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, voters will choose whether to keep or fire Congressman Peter Roskam.

First elected in 2006, Roskam is a loyal member of Republican leadership. As chairman of the House Tax Policy Subcommittee, Roskam helped write the GOP tax overhaul.

"That’s been good for our district. It’s brought the tax burden down. It’s created economic growth, unemployment rates at a decades-long low," he said.

When asked why he doesn't mention the tax overhaul in any of his television commercials, Roskam replied, "Well, it’s in a lot of our other ads, and it’s something I was asked earlier about, 'how are you approaching the tax debate?' I said, 'I’m approaching the tax debate — it’s the platform upon I’m running.'"

Democratic challenger Sean Casten called the tax cuts a giveaway to big corporations.

"There is simply no argument that giving corporates more cash is going to cause them to invest," he said.

Casten is a scientist and entrepreneur, who ran a business that manufactured power plants. He said he’d like to bring his business acumen to Washington.

"You’re always looking in a business sense for the win/win," he said. "The idea of saying let’s find what we both have in common and solve for that is unfortunately exceptional in politics, and I hope to having spent my formative years in the business environment will help bring a different perspective."

He wouldn’t be new to D.C. In 2007, Casten became a registered lobbyist, which Roskam is informing voters in TV commercials.

A first-time candidate, who defeated six Democrats to win the primary, Casten has had missteps. Audio surfaced of him saying President Trump and Osama bin Laden have a tremendous amount in common.

Roskam seized on the comments.

"He’s really embraced the politics of ridicule, the politics of name calling, putting people down. He’s tweeted out the Republican Party is the party of pedophiles or Republican donors are morons or Donald Trump — he’s compared to Osama bin Laden," Roskam said.

"We have a president in the White House who is doing what demagogues throughout history have done. He is telling people who feel disempowered and disenfranchised that the cause of their troubles is people who don’t look like them," Casten said. "What I apologize for is by naming one of those demagogues because that heightens the emotion. I don’t apologize for the substance of what I said."

Roskam is tying Casten to Illinois State House Speaker Michael Madigan, while Casten links Roskam to President Trump, whom he sides with often in Congress.

"President Trump is a mercurial figures, as we know. On the one hand, I wish he would stop tweeting," Roskam said. "My responsibility is to look at things the administration is doing and when they help the district to work to get those things done. When they’re adverse to the district, to work against them."

Something Roskam finds adverse from the Obama years is the Affordable Care Act. Health care is another big issues for voters. Casten wants to build on the Affordable Care Act. Roskam voted to repeal and replace.

"The important thing is that everybody’s covered," Casten said.

"Am I a critic of the ACA? Absolutely, it hasn’t done what it purported to," Roskam said.

Congressman Roskam has come under fire for choosing small constituent meetings rather than town halls.

"I’ve done one town hall meeting," Roskam said. "And I’ve been elected overwhelmingly in this constituency."

Casten said he pledges to hold four town halls per year.

Illinois’ 6th Congressional District in the western suburbs could decide control of the House. Polls show the contest a tossup.

In elections, voters in the 6th tend to go for Republicans. But in 2016, they chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

Two years ago, Clinton won the 6th but Roskam won reelection by 18 points. That the race is this close shows how much the political tide has changed.

To see more of Tahman Bradley's election stories, visit wgntv.com/decision2018.