election 2022

Two incumbents square off in new 6th District

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Newman, Casten battle for Dem nod

By Steve Metsch

It doesn’t happen often, but voters in the new 6th Congressional District have an unusual choice in the June 28 Democratic primary.

Because of redistricting, two sitting members of Congress–Marie Newman and Sean Casten– are going toe-to-toe for the nomination in the June 28 primary.

The district is mostly suburban, but includes almost all of Clearing and Garfield Ridge, as well as the Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods in the city.

Casten lives in the district. Because of redistricting, Newman lives just a few blocks outside it.

Asked about the odd situation, Casten found a reason to embrace it.

“There’s something beautiful about redistricting in the sense that you have to go out and meet a lot of new people,” Casten said.

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U.S. Rep. Sean Casten

“It’s a different kind of district with different issues, but I feel good about where we are, where we are connecting,” Casten said.

Rest assured, Casten, 50, wants to win his third term in Congress: “None of us are here to win silver medals.”

Newman, 58, obviously agrees with that as she seeks a second term. She defeated longtime Rep. Dan Lipinski two years ago after narrowly losing to him in the 2018 primary.

“I’ve learned when you convene all the stakeholders and talk about the problems … you are best disposed to develop solutions together and bring that legislation to D.C.,” Newman said.

With advisory councils, not to mention 500 meet-and-greets in the past two years, Newman said, “I understand this district at a molecular level.”

Inflation and gun violence, each candidate said, are high among the concerns of voters they’ve met on the campaign trail.

“What are we going to do to protect folks?” Casten said, noting the House recently passed gun control plans that will probably not be approved by the Senate.

“Of course, we still have the saga of Ukraine and what’s going to happen there,” Casten said. “Yet when you sit down and chat with people, ask them if they are better off than two years ago, people are really pretty positive.”

Newman said she’s always made a point to have a Republican member of Congress co-sponsor her bills because she wants people to know the two sides can work together.

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U.S. Rep. Marie Newman

“We agree on a lot more than we disagree,” Newman said.

Asked about choosing between two members of Congress, Casten said: “If the voters are educated, they’ll make the right decision.”

Each is pro-choice, and have solid records with labor, Casten said.

Newman recently went public about her own story about deciding to have an abortion was she was 19. She is now married with two adult children.

Casten, who lives in Downers Grove said a big difference with Newman is his focus on climate change, but Newman has also made climate change part of her legislative focus.

A visit to each candidate’s website reveals what they hope to accomplish on a wide range of issues.

Newman recently introduced a bill to reduce small business taxes by 5%, which preceded the recent rocketing inflation.

She’s also worked on a bill that allows better access for business owners to needed capital, with minorities and female owners at the front of the line, so to speak.

Regardless of the outcome, Casten is hoping people come out and vote.

“The thing I emphasize for everybody is democracy works only if people participate,” he said. “There are a lot of people in Washington who are trying to make it harder for people to vote, trying to convince people it’s not worth their time, and they’re having success

The most important thing is to not get demoralized. Be educated. As long as you do that, we’ll pass this democracy on to our children better that it was,” he said.

A third candidate, Garfield Ridge resident Charles M. “Chuck” Hughes is also on the ballot.

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Charles Hughes

Trying to capitalize on the Newman-Casten incumbency, Hughes is portraying himself as a political outsider, a kind of Gas Pump Democrat aiming to tap into voter anger over the economy.

In a campaign video posted on TikTok, Hughes stands at a gas station pump and implies that high gasoline prices and more are the fault of elected officials.

“I’ve raised a family, and I know what it is to scrape by,” Hughes said. “Both of my opponents are ‘bought and paid for’ career politicians.

“If you want someone like you [in Washington], rather than someone who screws you, vote for me.”

Tim Hadac contributed to this story.

Editor’s note: Casten was interviewed for this story on June 10, three days before his 17-year-old daughter was found dead in the family’s home. Newman has released a statement expressing her deep sorrow for the Casten family.

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