Reporting Dana Kozlov
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CHICAGO (CBS) – In the 8th Congressional District – in the northern suburbs in Lake, McHenry and Cook counties – promises to have one of the most watched races of the 2012 Congressional elections.
It’s where the contest between Tea Party Republican Congressman Joe Walsh and former Illinois Veterans Affairs official and Democratic candidate Tammy Duckworth will be getting lots of national attention.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov profiles two candidates who couldn’t be more different on certain key issues in the race.
Walsh, a Tea Party favorite, carries some personal baggage. Duckworth, who lost her legs in the Iraq war, will have to win over some conservative voters in the district.
But the 8th District map was redrawn to include a large chunk of the old 6th District, where she ran in 2006 against Peter Roskam. The new 8th District only includes about 26 percent of the area Walsh currently represents.
With all those factors in play, you have to wonder how nasty this race could get.
“He’s gotta be himself, and I’ve gotta be me,” Duckworkth said.
That’s how Duckworth sums up the political battle ahead with incumbent Walsh. But Walsh doesn’t believe it will be that simple.
“I’m hopeful she’s not just gonna hide behind (political adviser) David Axelrod and some of her other Chicago Democrat advisers and really get in front of voters,” Walsh said.
It was a likely hint at the tone of things to come, as the two duke it out for votes in the northwest suburbs.
It could be a very heated campaign, but Duckworth said, “I hope that it’s not.”
Both Duckworth and Walsh said they want to stick to the issues and keep personal attacks – and personal problems – off the agenda.
But, hours after the polls closed on Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a statement blasting Walsh’s stance on some issues and bringing up the lawsuit he’s facing for allegedly failing to pay child support.
But Walsh said he doesn’t think his personal issues will be a factor for voters.
“You know, look, I come from a lot of the same places where a lot of voters come from,” he said.
Asked how she’ll win over voters who supported a Tea Party Republican in 2010, Duckworth said, “I’m going to talk about jobs, I’m going to talk about the economy.”
Walsh said he expects the tone of the campaign “to be really passionate.”
Walsh also said he wants to debate Duckworth in front of as many voters as possible, as often as possible, beginning next month.
Duckworth’s represetatives said they look forward to several debates.