Republican State Sen. Peter Roskam and liberal Democrat Tammy Duckworth, idolized by the national media, are vying to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.) in the Prairie State’s 6th District. Because Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who is an opponent of the war, the race is attracting attention across the country.
“The best way to determine how someone is going to act in the future is by looking at the way he has conducted himself in the past,” says the strongly conservative Roskam.
After 13 years in the Illinois legislature, where he currently serves as the senate Republican whip, Roskam has a record he points to with pride. He led the charge for a ban on state funding of partial-birth abortions, stood firm for the right to keep and bear arms, and steadfastly opposed tax increases.
Roskam served as a legislative assistant for Rep. Tom DeLay (R.-Tex.) and then worked for Hyde. He later earned a law degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law, set up a private practice in Wheaton, and became a partner in the firm of Salvi, Roskam & Maher.
The conservative hopeful’s local ties stand in stark contrast to what he calls his opponent’s “Chicago Democrat” connections. While Duckworth has raised a considerable amount of money, Roskam points out that only 12 of her contributors actually live in the 6th District, and the bulk of her funds have come from Chicago Democrats. This is light years removed from Roskam’s 1,000 donors who are actually 6th District residents.
“If I am elected and sworn in next January, I will be a member of Congress who is a voice of restraint on how Congress has been spending,” vows Roskam, who wants to make tax cuts permanent and see that marriage and death taxes are eliminated.
On immigration, he believes that 6th District residents want border control before any kind of guest-worker program and support a “process that drives towards assimilation.”
Any discussion of Roskam’s campaign inevitably ends with queries about Hyde, whom he calls “my friend and mentor.” “No one is going to replace Henry Hyde,” says Roskam, “ I’m running to succeed him.”