Illinois Candidates For Office Trade Accusations Days Before Primary

Mar 8, 2016

Illinois candidates for office will face a primary election next week. Some candidates are accusing their opponents of ducking debates.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

  Democratic candidates for the U-S Senate, former Urban League president Andrea Zopp and State Sen. Napoleon Harris, will debate on WTTW Channel 20 in Chicago Tuesday. But the front-runner, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, said she's not attending.

A poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute said last month that Duckworth is the clear favorite. But Zopp said Duckworth has completely ignored voters in central and southern Illinois.

"I think that's not fair, it's disrespectful to the downstate voters, who are critical to the Democratic process."

  A spokesman for Duckworth responded by saying she's participated in three debates, which received statewide media attention. But only one of those was an actual debate. The other two were appearances before newspaper editorial boards. All three events were in the Chicago area.

Meanwhile State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, wants to win the Congressional seat for the 15th district. He's accused his opponent, Republican Congressman John Shimkus, of avoiding voters' questions. McCarter said he invited Shimkus to participate in a couple of town hall meetings, but Shimkus never showed.

"He doesn't want the public to be aware of anything he's doing and he's got a lot to hide over 20 years. And he's got very little to talk about as to what he's done for 20 years."

Shimkus' campaign says it never received a direct invitation to the town halls.

The men will debate each other on Saturday at noon on WKRV Radio, 107.1 FM just two days before the primary contest on March 15th.

No Democrat has filed to run in the sprawling 15th district, which covers much of south-eastern Illinois. Shimkus has Gov. Bruce Rauner's endorsement and is perceived as the front-runner.