Eighth Congressional District voters have three candidates to choose from Nov. 2 to represent them in Washington.
Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean is seeking a fourth term representing the district, which covers most of Lake County, far northwest Cook County and northeast McHenry County, including Woodstock, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove and Johnsburg.
Bean, 48, will face Republican challenger Joe Walsh, who won a six-way primary to represent the GOP’s latest effort to regain control of the district after Bean’s 2004 upset victory over 36-year incumbent Phil Crane. Bill Scheurer, who successfully created a third party to run in 2006, is running this time on the Green Party ticket.
Bean, of Barrington, said she has established a record of fiscal discipline combined with a common-sense, socially moderate platform based on “ideas, not ideology.”
She proved her ability to win in a conservative-leaning district with wins over Republican challengers in 2006 and 2008, the last with 60 percent of the vote.
But Walsh, 48, alleges that Bean has abandoned fiscal conservatism through her backing of health care reform, cap and trade, and bailout legislation. Walsh moved to McHenry from Winnetka as part of his candidacy.
Scheurer, 59, of Lindenhurst, said he was running to bring an independent and pragmatic voice to a two-party system where “moneyed interests are able to buy politicians to override the will of the people.”
The candidates differ greatly on health care reform legislation. Bean, who supported it, said it will provide people with health care security, affordability and choice and that she will continue to seek ways to improve and adjust it during its years-long implementation.
“I will remain involved to ensure that well-intended policy doesn’t create unintended consequences,” Bean said.
Walsh, however, favors a complete repeal of the reforms. He said the law would create heavy financial burdens on businesses and did not address tort reform to eliminate frivolous lawsuits, which he says accounts for much of the high costs of health care. Walsh also said that the provision mandating that Americans have health insurance exceeds the limits of federal power under the U.S. Constitution.
Scheurer said the reforms failed to address uncontrolled health care costs, and that the only solution is to introduce “genuine market forces” in the health care industry to offer more competition and choice. If elected, he said he would introduce a voluntary “Part E for Everyone” Medicare program for interested people.
Bean said she supported the cap-and-trade bill in part after discovering that no businesses in the district exceeded the emissions cap. She said cap and trade would help address environmental issues while helping spur green technology initiatives.
Walsh opposes the bill, saying that the present bill would raise energy prices and kill jobs over the next 20 years.
“While I support sensible policies that will help curb carbon emissions, I am opposed to the federal government’s intention to destroy our manufacturing jobs to score political points with environmental groups,” Walsh said.
Scheurer said government should embark on an “energy race” similar to the Cold War space race to become a world leader in clean and renewable energy. He said the U.S. should create a model that other nations want to follow, and opposes a cap on the nation’s emissions when pollution is a global problem.
“Hobbling our economy with cost dislocations that other large economies do not have will not solve the problem, only shift its sources,” Scheurer said.
One belief that all three candidates share is opposition to illegal immigration.
Bean said she consistently voted to bolster border security from fences to border patrols and co-introduced legislation to strengthen penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
Walsh accused the Obama administration of ceasing to enforce existing immigration laws and criticized the administration for suing Arizona over its new law aimed at deterring illegal immigration.
Scheurer said border security was a fundamental obligation that both establishment parties had ignored, and he favors augmenting it with the U.S. military. All three oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, but Scheurer elaborated that he opposed any legislation changing their status until the nation has “stopped the flow” into the country.