Saturday, December 10, 2005

Residency an issue for 6th District rivals

Residency an issue for 6th District rivals

December 2, 2005

BY LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Columnist

Democratic congressional candidate Christine Cegelis said Thursday she did not understand why Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) recruited a rival to run against her who did not live in the district.

Democratic Party of DuPage County Chairman Gayl Ferraro said the residency of Army Maj. Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth "is going to be an issue with a lot of our voters, from what I've been hearing."

Duckworth, who lost her legs and suffered a badly wounded arm when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq on Nov. 12, 2004, is poised to announce her candidacy as soon as she is off active duty.

Duckworth's husband, Bryan Bowlsbey, said Thursday her paperwork to switch her status has been submitted to a medical board but that it was not clear when the Army would act.

Nominating petitions for the 2006 contests in Illinois are due Dec. 19.

Seeks seat Hyde is yielding

Once Duckworth contemplated a run, encouraged by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Emanuel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the House Democratic political organization), she received guidelines from her commander at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington that limited her public partisan speech, Bowlsbey said.

However, that has not kept Duckworth from quietly laying the groundwork for a bid, working with political professionals and contacting local officials about the seat now held by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), who is retiring. Durbin lent a Chicago staffer, David McDermott, to help Duckworth.

Duckworth met with Ferraro on Wednesday afternoon at DuPage County party headquarters in Lombard. Ferraro said Duckworth told her she "has permission to start circulating petitions" even while on active duty.

On Monday, Duckworth phoned Cegelis to discuss the race. The conversation was brief, Cegelis said. "She just wanted to introduce herself to me, that's all," Cegelis said in a conference call with reporters.

"We didn't talk for very long. We talked a bit about the fact that she does not live in the district and that she does not intend to move to the district.''

Cegelis lives in Rolling Meadows and was the 2004 6th Congressional District Democratic nominee, gaining 44 percent of the vote in a shoestring campaign against Hyde.

Remapped out of district

Duckworth lives in the section of Hoffman Estates in the 8th Congressional District -- whose voters sent Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) to Washington.

Freshman Bean lives in Barrington, in the 10th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.).

Bean, however, lived in the district when she first ran for the House and is just about 1,400 feet over the line, having been remapped out by Republicans looking -- unsuccessfully, it turned out -- to protect Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.), whom Bean defeated in 2004.

After she was wounded, Duckworth's friends remodeled her home in Hoffman Estates to make it handicapped accessible, and as a practical matter, it would be difficult for her to move at this time. Emanuel's considerable fund-raising ability will be used to market Duckworth and diminish her residency as an issue.

Emanuel shopped around for another Democrat to run because he was not convinced Cegelis could muster a campaign to beat the likely GOP nominee, state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

Ferraro -- who as party chairwoman said she will be neutral in the primary -- said Emanuel's undermining Cegelis has made some DuPage Democrats "very angry about the whole situation. They are looking at it as the DCCC coming in and telling them what to do."

"But I don't necessarily view it that way. It is anyone's right to run for the office," Ferraro said.

If Cegelis beats Duckworth and Wheaton College Professor Lindy Scott -- a long shot -- she will emerge stronger than she is now.

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company

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