Saturday, January 07, 2006

Duckworth Meets the Locals

This past Thursday candidates for IL-06 spent some time at the York Township Democratic Organization meeting. York Township covers a large part of the district and YTDO was less than outgoing in it's reception to Duckworth entering the IL-06 race, having spent the better part of the last two years supporting regular attendee Christine Cegelis. So what kind of impression did she make on members:
Though YTDO has opposed the idea of Duckworth's candidacy, everybody was friendly and welcoming. And while Duckworth probably didn't persuade anybody present to defect to her camp, she did make an overall favorable impression. [...]
But there were a few, er, Major oddities.
She had talked about health care as a problem, and I asked what solution she favored, specifically whether she would support H. R. 676, the single-payer bill. She said yes, she would support it, and then touted her own idea which is a national version of Gov. Blagojevich's plan to provide health insurance for children. Obviously, this would be unnecessary if we had single-payer, which would cover all ages. Maybe she meant the latter plan as a next best thing if we can't have single-payer. But maybe she didn't know what single-payer is and answered anyway.
Another YTDO member, whom we'll call "WHISKEY" since that's his nom de blog, asked her about the Bankruptcy Bill which Melissa Bean voted for. She talked about how it was unfair for companies in financial trouble to take away employees' pensions. A good answer to the wrong question.
What to make of this? Is it an honest slip, the kind of brain fart that happens to the best of us? Or is it a Major gaffe, the result of someone who's had too much coaching and not done enough independent thinking on the issues?

Here's "Whiskey's" take:
She came across as very credible, a good candidate, but she really had a hard time answering the questions about her status as a resident in the 8th congressional district (the hated Melissa Bean's district). [...]

I asked her two questions that she handled pretty well. My first was whether she'd vote for CAFTA, she said no. My second was whether she'd support the bankruptcy bill that passed last year (and that punishes peopl for filing for bankruptcy for medical bills). I made sure to mention that 'her' representative voted for both of those pieces of heinous legislation, the former at the urging of Rahm Emanuel.

Afterwards, Christine got up and did a very good job presenting herself, saying that she knew most of the people in the room (ahem, Ms. Duckworth)...

So in the end, Duckworth came across to a tough room as anticipated: a well spoken charasmatic candidate who is new to politics and doesn't quite know all the issues important to the district or nationally just yet. Cramming is hard work, but I'm sure she'll get better. But as Gary noted earlier, she didn't win many converts. As Gary puts it:
I do think Christine Cegelis is handing this the right way:
We need representatives who are not beholden to outside interests. I am willing to make the tough stands and decisions because of my belief in doing the right thing, but also because I won’t owe this seat to anyone but my constituents.

Amen, and while Duckworth can adopt Cegelis' positions, she can't cover up the fact that her campaign is built on money from interests who are going to expect a return on their investment.
Per Duckworth, her next campaign event is a press conference on the Alternative Minimum Tax. Why this particular topic, I have no idea, unless she's trying to establish credentials as a policy wonk.

Amen indeed. Why the AMT now is another interesting question as that isn't really current news at the moment. I think it's less policy wonk development as keeping her name in the media by holding press conferences.