CHICAGO – Far from the comforts of home and fresh off a flight from Capitol Hill, Rep. Joe Walsh finally spilled the beans – he will run in the 8th District.
Walsh confirmed speculation and news reports that he would make a run for the 8th District's Republican congressional nomination.
After taking time to consider where to fight in the next election, Walsh said remaining in his home district would mean taking the easy way out.
“It didn’t just feel right to me to stay out in the 14th [District] in a nice, safe Republican district, taking on another Republican in a primary when the Democrats have drawn a new district and reconfigured it to be very Democratic,” Walsh said. “It would mean we Republicans are just going to let that seat go. Whoever that Democratic nominee is, he or she is on the wrong side of this historic fight.”
Walsh's much-anticipated announcement was made Thursday at a Tea Party meeting at The Cubby Bear bar in Chicago, outside the boundaries of both districts.
Despite this change of scenery, many supporters rallied in support of Walsh, welcoming his message of revolution and a rebirth of the American dream.
“I stand before you tonight thoroughly exhausted, beaten and battered, more tired than you can ever imagine, with permanent scars all over my body that will never leave,” Walsh said. “And I say all this to you to remind you, and to remind me, that we are at war in this country.
“We need a revolution to get us back to what our founders envisioned.”
Rumors that Walsh would run in the incumbent-free congressional district have been circulating recently, but the congressman and his campaign had remained mum.
In September, Walsh announced plans to run in the redrawn 14th District. Thursday's announcement allows Walsh to avoid a primary face-off with fellow freshman incumbent Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield.
Hultgren's campaign issued a statement shortly after Walsh's announcement.
"By running in the 8th district Congressman Walsh is standing up to Nancy Pelosi and the Springfield Democrats, refusing to simply hand them that seat," Hultgren campaign spokesperson Andrew Flach said in a statement. "We are pleased with his decision and wish him the best of luck."
The post-census Congressional map put Walsh in the 14th, which covers most of McHenry County and parts of the remaining collar counties, including Kendall and DeKalb counties. Mapmakers pushed the 8th District closer to Chicago, making it more friendly for Democratic pick up. The 8th District no longer includes any portion of McHenry County.
Fellow GOP candidates, DuPage County Regional Superintendent Darlene Ruscitti and financial planner Andrew Palomo, also are seeking their party's nod for the 8th District.
Palomo said Walsh called him before making his announcement, a move Palomo called "gentlemanly."
"Joe's a good guy and he's got good ideas, but I don't know deep the river is," Palomo said. "... I don't know the depths of his knowledge on what he speaks about in regard to the economy, regulation."
Ruscitti was unavailable for comment because she was at a fundraising event, but her campaign said she will carry on with a push for the seat.
"No matter what Joe Walsh announces, Darlene will continue," campaign volunteer Bob Grogan said before Walsh's announcement. "She will file her petition at the end of December, just like everyone else."
Two Democrats, Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth and former Illinois Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, are also running in the 8th District primary.
"Raja welcomes the chance to contrast the Democratic agenda for job creation with Joe Walsh's ideology-driven opposition to government helping working families and the middle class," the Krishnamoorthi campaign said in a statement.
Duckworth said she never backs down from a fight.
"First he was running in 8th, then the 14th, and then 8th. I stopped paying attention to Joe Walsh's district shopping a while ago," Duckworth said.
Walsh won election in the 8th District last year, beating Democrat incumbent Melissa Bean by fewer than 300 votes.
He made a name for himself as a freshman firebrand with his public attacks on the Obama administration that went viral. Negative attention also has focused on Walsh's personal financial struggles, including allegations that he owes his ex-wife more than $100,000 in back child support.