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18th Dist. Congressional Candidate Calls For Public Debate

Cass Herrington
Peoria Public Radio

The Democratic candidate for the 18th district congressional district seat is giving his opponent 48 hours to “take a cue from Abraham Lincoln” and agree to debate. 

Eureka College professor Junius Rodriguez is running against the incumbent GOP Congressman Darin LaHood. Rodriguez says LaHood has denied requests to debate ahead of the November primary. Rodriguez made the call standing next to the statue of Lincoln outside Peoria’s courthouse.

“There are some who would say, 'this is district is such a solidly red district, why bother?, Why recognize there’s an opponent in this race?, why worry that you have to defend your positions?'" Rodriguez said. "Maybe he believes he has a lock on the district.”

The 18th District, which includes Peoria, Springfield and Bloomington, has voted majority Republican for more than 75 years.  

Rodriguez says there have been ongoing efforts by at least four groups, including the League of Women Voters in Peoria and the Springfield State-Journal Register, to host debates for both candidates.

"The residents of this district deserve nothing less than the opportunity to hear their candidates for U.S. Congress argue and defend their views in a public forum," Rodriguez said. 

Calls to LaHood’s office for comment were not returned.