The Race in Illinois’ 6e The congressional district is on the edge, with Rep. Sean Casten and Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau both receiving high-profile support from their respective party leaders in the final days of the race.
Casten, who defeated fellow Rep. Marie Newman in this year’s Democratic primary, participated in a reproductive health forum with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. Pekau, who beat a crowded field in the Republican primary, will appear Friday at a rally with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the man who could become the new president if Republicans take control of bedroom.
The redesigned district poses challenges for both candidates, which they said they embrace.
“Some of the newer parts of the district, some people don’t know me as well, don’t know the issues either, and you have to go out and communicate with them,” Casten said. “As long as voters are educated and as long as they get out and vote, I feel good about our prospects.”
“The people of Mount Greenwood and Beverly and Palos Hills and Heights, they don’t buy into this ‘wake the left’ agenda,” Pekau said.
Polls have shown the race has tightened in recent weeks, and both candidates are emphasizing their ground game as the election nears.
The contest touched on many themes, with Casten forcefully asserting that he is the only candidate in the race to push back against the rollback of abortion access rights that gained momentum when the Supreme Court overturned the previous Roe v. Wade earlier this year. .
“50% of the women in this district had their rights taken away after the Dobbs decision. It’s really important,” he said.
Pekau says his campaign volunteers have rarely encountered anyone willing to discuss abortion, instead saying voters care about safety and the economy.
“My team has knocked on over 60,000 doors. I think we’ve heard from maybe a dozen people about abortion,” he said. “The problems are crime, inflation and the economy.”
Pekau has been particularly critical of the “SAFE-T Act,” which is slated to eliminate cash bail in the state of Illinois starting in 2023. He ran repeated advertisements against the measure, and his Commentary on the bill has often been featured in viral videos on social media.
“I was against the ‘SAFE-T Act’ because I’m a mayor and I know the impact it’s going to have,” he said.
Casten defended his work on behalf of law enforcement.
“There are people who want to talk about crime to stoke racial animosity in our country, and I’m not going to do that, but I’m certainly proud of what we’ve done to make sure we support our friends in the app. of the law,” he said.
Just six days away from the election, Pekau will get a healthy dose of national spotlight on Friday when McCarthy arrives in town, an appearance he says signals how optimistic Republicans are about taking the seat.
“It just tells you that we’re going to win this race and he’s going to come here to support someone who’s going to be a new congressman. I think he knows we are going to win,” he said.
Casten, no stranger to tough election fights, said his opponent has made a point of never appearing on neutral ground in a debate, and says he is confident the race will go his way.
“I feel comfortable where we are,” he said. “(Pekau) did not appear in any town hall. He did not appear before any newspaper board. It meets on channels that are very deeply partisan.