CHICAGO — In the race to represent Illinois’ 6th District, things have gotten heated. Each candidate has targeted the other with negative ads, and they’ve had their chances to go toe-to-toe on the airwaves and virtual debates.
On Friday, Democratic Congressman Sean Casten, from Downers Grove, and Republican challenger Jeanne Ives sparred for their only televised debate.
Casern is a first term congressman who built his professional life around clean energy. In 2018, Casten flipped the district blue, beating a six-term incumbent to earn his chance to represent the northwestern suburbs.
“I ran because I didn’t want to be represented by a president who had politicized science, amplified divisions and celebrates ignorance,” Casten said.
His challenger is an Army veteran, tax advisor and military mom — a staunch conservative from Wheaton and a former Illinois representative serving three terms in Springfield who almost beat former Gov.Bruce Rauner in the 2018 primary.
“Do you want more freedom in your life or more government? As a state legislator, I stood up against taxes, unnecessary regulations and public corruption,” Ives said.
In the one-hour debate hosted by WGN’s political reporter Tahman Bradley and political analyst Paul Lisnek, they debated healthcare taxes and rising unemployment in the district.
But right out of the gate: handling the pandemic and a stalled COVID-19 relief package. Casten said America needs more resources for testing and contact tracing.
“This is an avoidable crisis,” Casten said. “We have four percent of the world’s population and over 20% of the fatalities. And you’ve got people like my opponent actively going out and telling people you don’t have to wear a mask. And that kids can’t get COVID, and that’s simply not true. We didn’t have to have this happen.”
Ives believes it could be wasted money.
“We have already spent $3 trillion,” she said. “They’re looking at – in fact Sean Casten passed $3.4 trillion in new spending just recently, and nearly a third of that included stuff completely unrelated to COVID relief.”
They also discussed a national mask mandate.
“We should live in a society where people look out for their fellow man and woman, we are now at a position where we have to have a conversation of should we mandate that people do things that are in the interest of public health,” Casten said.
“That’s outrageous,” Ives said. “You’re telling adults how to live their lives in that situation. Masks are fine; when you need to use them, you use them. When you don’t need to use them, you don’t use them.”
Both differed on fixing partisanship, some nastiness reared up on the recent endorsement for Casten from the former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s listed on campaign finance reports for Sean Casten as a paid consultant,” Ives said.
“He’s not a consultant to me,” he said. “I think his direct quote was, ‘There’s no room in the Republican Party for racist, bigoted and homophobic candidates like her.’”
Both agreed on two fronts: Each supports early and absentee voting and agreed to adhering to the results of the vote and both disagree with national calls to defund the police.