With just two weeks left until voters cast their ballots, Illinois’ 11th congressional district race has become one of the most competitive in terms of cash and polling numbers showing the two candidates are nearly tied. We take a closer look at the tight race.
With just two weeks left until voters cast their ballots, Illinois’ 11th congressional district race has become one of the most competitive in terms of cash and polling numbers showing the two candidates are nearly tied.
Incumbent Republican Judy Biggert is running for her eighth term in the newly-redrawn west suburban district against Democrat Bill Foster, a former House member who lost his seat in 2010.
A look at both candidates’ voting records shows each could be a poster child for their respective parties, with Biggert voting along Republican lines 89 percent of her time in office, though she’s consistently voted in favor of gay rights issues. Meanwhile 93 percent of Foster’s votes have sided with his Democratic peers in Congress, tempered with a vote in favor of the Bush-era tax cuts.
The two are also neck and neck when it comes to campaign cash, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. For the first time in her political career, Biggert faces an opponent who has managed to raise almost as much money as her own campaign, with each having earned just under $2.4 million apiece. Foster currently trails Biggert by just $40,000.
Millions of dollars in outside money has also spilled into the race in the form of attack ads seeking to negatively tie each contender to China’s economy. An analysis by the Daily Herald, however, shows supporters on both sides have fudged the facts in their candidate’s favor.
In a phone interview Monday afternoon Foster defended the ads.
“There’s a difference between attack ads and lies. Congresswoman Biggert and her allies are pushing lies. Our ads are correct, and if anyone who is spending in support of me says something that is not true I will stand up and publicly correct them,” Foster said.
He also defended his vote for the Bush tax cuts, but added a caveat saying he was only in favor of the tax cuts for the middle class, not for those who earn more than $250,000 a year.
“There was not the opportunity to vote independently on the middle class portion of those, which I support, and the portion for high-incomes, which I believed should have been left to expire,” he said.
Biggert also voted in favor of those tax cuts and recently signed on to conservative polemic Grover Norquist’s controversial Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which states that all signees “solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases.”
In recent debates, the two sparred over Medicare and the DREAM Act.
Foster, who voted in favor President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act and stimulus funding, said he wants to preserve Medicare funding as is. He slammed Biggert for voting in favor of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget, which she called a “road map.” Biggert instead supports using government subsidies for seniors to buy private health care.
Foster pointed to his vote in favor of the DREAM Act, which would layout a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, as one of his proudest moments in Congress. But Biggert voted no on the act and said U.S. borders must remain secure, which keeps in line with her 2006 vote in favor of building a fence along the border of Mexico.
Foster, a former scientist who worked at Fermilab in Batavia, also said he’d be willing to reduce military spending by closing down unused bases in Europe. The former congressman said he favors more funding for science programs, specifically unmanned space flight, and education.
Meanwhile, Biggert, a former lawyer and small business owner, voted against removing troops from Afghanistan. She is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, and received an endorsement from the Illinois Education Association.
The two also differ on women’s issues. Foster noted that he voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which gives more leverage to someone filing an equal-pay lawsuit, while Biggert voted against it. Foster also said he’s “100 percent pro-choice”, while Biggert has voted to ban federal funding for health coverage that includes abortion procedures. Biggert has voted in favor of additional funding for stem cell research.
Biggert’s campaign did not respond to messages for this story.