This year’s trio of congressional candidates from Illinois’ 12th district face off tonight in their final debate at Lindenwood University-Belleville.
With 27 days between the candidates and Election Day, the race for the senate seat of Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, is in full swing. So far, the district that encompasses SIU campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville could be a toss-up between Jason Plummer, R-O’Fallon, and William Enyart, D-Belleville, according to The New York Times race ratings.
Enyart said 55 percent of 12th district voters favored President Barack Obama in 2008, but 51 percent favored Rep. Mark Kirk for senator two years later.
“No one could correctly label this district Republican or Democrat,” he said.
After the Aug. 15 candidates’ debate at the WSIU-TV studio in Carbondale, an aggressive contest between Enyart and Plummer began to take form, which was made evident in the most recent debate.
The Sept. 15 debate at the Marion Cultural & Civic Center had an often personal and heated tone between the Democratic and Republican nominees, as the two accused each other of lying, particularly when it came to whether Plummer supports the budget unveiled last year by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the Republican nominee for vice president.
“Let me repeat this in front of everybody,” Plummer said in the last debate. “I have never endorsed Paul Ryan’s budget, and I do not support Paul Ryan’s budget, and if you say that again you’re being dishonest to the people of southern Illinois.”
Throughout the Marion debate, Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw, an emergency room nurse from Carbondale, promoted her vision of a Green New Deal that would create new jobs based on massive investments in solar and wind energy. She also called for tougher laws to oversee Wall Street.
“We need people in Congress who will make sure fair rules are made and followed, who’ll protect public property, who’ll make sure the top 1 percent are taxed fairly, that money is distributed fairly,” Bradshaw said in her closing remarks at the debate.
Bradshaw is the district’s only candidate not from the Metro-East region, the district’s most populated area composed of eastern St. Louis-area suburbs, according to elections.illinois.gov.
Since this will be the first election with new district maps based on 2010 Census Data, the district Bradshaw seeks to represent now encompasses the entire southwestern tip of the state and includes Jefferson, Perry, Franklin, Williamson, Union, Alexander, Pulaski, Jackson, Randolph, Monroe, St. Clair and part of Madison counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau website.
Rep. Jerry Costello, who first took office in 1988, decided not to seek a 13th term last fall. Brad Harriman, Democratic primary winner, quit the race in May because of health concerns. Party leaders then chose Enyart, former state National Guard adjutant general, as the replacement.
Enyart, an SIUC law alumnus, said Plummer lacks private industry experience because he works solely for his family’s lumber firm.
Plummer, who was the unsuccessful 2010 Republican lieutenant governor candidate in 2010, is vice president of corporate development at R.P. Lumber.
Tonight’s debate will be the final one broadcasted live on WSIU Public Radio 91.9 FM with a live stream on the the Belleville News-Democrat and Southern Illinoisan’s website.
The debate will begin at 7 p.m.