13th Congressional candidates Rodney Davis and David Gill battled over the issues Wednesday in the Brown Ballroom at ISU. (photo by WJBC/Zach Dietmeier)
By Zach Dietmeier
NORMAL - Healthcare, taxes, and campaign funding highlighted the debate between 13th Congressional candidates Rodney Davis and David Gill Wednesday night at Illinois State University.
Davis, the Republican in the race, focused on slamming Democrat Gill over his support for what he calls extreme ideas that go beyond the current Affordable Care Act provisions. He went so far as to call his opponent an "insider wannabe".
"When you have a guy who says he's an outsider but has run for this office three times, for the better part of a decade, well you know at some point, you have to call yourself a candidate and you have to say you're a political wannabe, and that's what I wanted David to do," said Davis.
Gill says the real campaign focus should be on where Davis is getting his money.
"He's taking lots and lots of corporate dollars," said Gill. "It fuels his campaign - directly and indirectly. The commercials that are running? That's corporate America that doesn't want David Gill to be in Washington D.C."
Both candidates went on the attack over negative campaign ads, pointing fingers in the direction of Super PAC support. At multiple points, Davis and Gill both ignored the question proposed in order to return to discussing Gill's healthcare plans and Davis' campaign funds.
The event was put on to help educate students and community members on current local and national issues. On the subject of education, both candidates agreed that more funding for Pell grants is needed nationwide. Gill points to student worries over job opportunities as a central focus.
"These kids are really looking at tough times," said Gill. "This is the first time ever in American history that kids won't have the same opportunity that their parents and grandparents had, and I think that's a shame. I think that the issues addressed at the Congressional level are directly pertinent to their future."
Davis really enjoyed the forum and believes the audience responded well to the discussion.
"This debate was a great opportunity for everybody to hear our differences and our very contrasting visions for America," said Davis. "I will welcome many more opportunities to talk about our differences."
Davis, of Taylorville, says both parties have failed to extend tax rates. He points to Social Security and Medicare as two simple reason why new leadership is needed.
An interesting agreement between both candidates came when a student question over concealed carry on Illinois campuses was posed. Gill and Davis both said they would support a national legislation allowing for concealed carry statewide and in situations at the discretion of organizations such as college campuses, churches, stores, and other public places.
Both sides plan to continue campaigning across the district for 19 more days. More debates could still be scheduled.
Zach can be reached at Zach.Dietmeier@cumulus.com.