Monday, December 19, 2005

Locals Dems Upset Over Duckworth

Duh. From The Hill:
Local Democrats warn that, despite Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth’s popularity in Washington, she is likely to face an uphill battle in winning her party’s nomination to run for the seat now held by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.).

[...]

Alycia Fitz, a DuPage County Democratic official who coordinates election observers, said Cegelis has a “very loyal following.”

What’s more, Fitz said, there does not appear to be any substantive differences among Cegelis, Duckworth and Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott on Duckworth’s signature issue: the war in Iraq and President Bush’s handling of it.

Steven Kierstead, a DuPage County Democratic activist who runs a weekly e-mail newsletter sent to 1,400-1,500 local Democrats, added that the question of Duckworth’s residency — she lives just over the line in the 10th Congressional District — will hamper her efforts to win the support of party officials.

“It won’t make much difference to John and Jane average voter,” Kierstead said, “but some of the activists are very hot about it. Some of the people in the Cegelis camp already have used it.”

And this lack of so-called institutional support, Democrats add, will make it difficult for Duckworth to avoid looking like a “Washington candidate” imposed on Democrats in the suburban-Chicago district.

Florian Wasik, a retired mechanical engineer who volunteers at the Wheeling Township Democratic headquarters, in the neighboring 10th District, called Duckworth an “intrusion” imposed on the 6th District by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) who represents the nearby 5th District, in Chicago.

Although I agree with the general take of this part of the article, there are two pieces that I take issue with. First is Fitz' notion that there are not substantial differences between the candidates. I guess they all take Democratic positions, so on this level they are similar. But, as I'll try to get into in the new year, there are differences between the three candidates, especially where they stand in the Democratic spectrum and depth on issues important to the district.

The other point that I'll quibble over is this notion that Cegelis supporters are "using" Duckworth's residency as an issue. I've written about it to try to highlight a key difference between Cegelis and Duckworth. Cegelis has 20-plus years of ties to the district. She's raised kids in the district, started a business in the district, voted in the district, and been to just about every Democratic meeting, group, and coffee there is in the district - probably more than once. Duckworth has lived just outside the district for only three years. Noting her short residency near the district is highlighting a legitmate difference between these two candidates, not being used as hyped up spin.

Regardless, Duckworth is in the race and it will be a three way primary. I hope the race stays on issues and moves quickly to a schedule of debates. I'll try to focus in on the various candidate's positions as the new year begins and the primary season kicks into high gear.