The schedule for the 8th District Congressional debates between U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-McHenry) and Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth is set — but not without some carping from Walsh’s campaign.
Walsh and Duckworth, who is best known for her time serving in Iraq and as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, will square off September 14 on Fox News Chicago, October 9 at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, and October 18 on the WTTW's Chicago Tonight. The October 9 debate is open to 8th District residents and will be broadcast on WCPT AM & FM.
The candidates held their first debate May 12.
Duckworth billed the announcement in a press release as the “final debate schedule.” But a Walsh spokesman told the Daily Herald, “this schedule is in no way final” as the Congressman would like to hold a debate each week.
Duckworth campaign spokeswoman Kaitlin Fahey told Progress Illinois that weekly debates would not happen.
“We’ve been very clear that we would debate Joe four times, which will give voters an opportunity to see the candidates together, and have finalized which remaining three Tammy will participate in,” Fahey wrote in an e-mail.
The Walsh-Duckworth battle has stood out in a number ways including the eye-opening amount of money involved. Bolstered by national Democratic Party support, Duckworth’s campaign raised $890,000 in the second quarter of 2012, while Walsh hauled in $318,000. According to Duckworth’s campaign, her total is the most that a challenger from either party raised in the last quarter.
Tea Partier Walsh also made waves for stating last month that Duckworth talks too much about her military service, something “true heroes” avoid. Duckworth lost both her legs in the Iraq War.
The first debate featured colorful attacks, but also showed major policy differences between the two candidates.
For example, Walsh and Duckworth sharply disagreed on what should be done about the student loan interest rate. Duckworth wanted the rate kept at 3.4 percent, while Walsh wanted an increase to 6.8 percent. A bill signed by President Barack Obama at the end of June will keep the rate at 3.4 percent.
The candidates also differ on how — and if — government should be involved in helping spur job creation, with Walsh wanting to keep government out and Duckworth seeking to promote federal action on the jobs front. Duckworth and Walsh also differ on same-sex marriage. Duckworth supports marriage equality, while Walsh contends that the institution should only be open to heterosexual couples.