Sean Casten vows to bring accountability to the nation’s capital if he’s elected.
The Downers Grove Democrat, who is running against Republican incumbent Peter Roskam for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District seat, talked to the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Tuesday morning.
Casten said Roskam, of Wheaton, enables President Donald Trump.
“My opponent votes with Donald Trump 94 percent of the time, votes with his party 97 percent of the time. The question for me is, ‘Do you make decisions based on information, or do you make decisions based on party loyalty?’” Casten said.
Casten said he would methodically look over each bill and be an informed voter.
He called Trump a terrible president.
“I think he’s the worst president of our lifetime,” Casten said. “If I’d lived longer, I might say beyond that.”
Casten said Trump tarnished the nation’s reputation by pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and Iran nuclear deal.
Most egregious, Casten said, is the way Trump “has comported himself.”
“He has somehow normalized lying every day,” Casten said. “[Trump] has utterly cheapened our public discourse, whether it’s bragging about sexual assault, using racist language, preaching xenophobia. He has cheapened us as a country.”
Casten said he believes Roskam’s attack ads against him echo Trump’s rhetoric during the 2016 election, when Trump dubbed Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and Sen. Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.”
“He is not running a campaign based on issues. He’s running a campaign based on name-calling,” Casten said.
Inspired by 2016 election
Casten, who has never held public office, said he was inspired to run for Congress after the 2016 election.
“I sort of felt that everything that matters to me after the November election was under attack,” Casten said. “Not just prioritizing climate change, but having people in elected office who will make decisions based on facts rather than politics.”
He promised to bring “some accountability back to Congress in places that I feel like it’s been missing,” he said.
Casten, a biochemist and entrepreneur, said his business experience has prepared him for the House of Representatives. In 2000, Casten became the president and CEO of Turbosteam Corp., a manufacturer of combined heat and power plants.
“You have to be able to balance those interests,” Casten said. “I don’t for a second suggest that I know everything I need to know about this job, but anybody who knows everything they need to do a job is pretty bored at work.”
Casten said he differs with Republicans on climate change, immigration reform, free trade, inequality and health care.
He said he was appalled by Roskam’s votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“My opponent voted to repeal the ACA, Obamacare, which would have taken 30,000 people in this district off their health insurance,” he said.
Casten defended the Affordable Care Act but said the conversation should shift to getting “cheap, really good health care.”
“We pay more per capita than every other country in the world,” he said. “We have worse health outcomes than every country that has universal health care. ... We should be getting universal health care as quickly as possible.”