WNIJ News
5:53 am
Tue September 16, 2008

IL-11: Illinois District May Turn Democratic

DeKalb, IL – The Illinois 11th Congressional District may switch from Republican to Democratic in this year's election, according to Northern Illinois University Political Science Professor Matt Streb.

Current Republican Representative Gerry Weller is retiring. State Senator and Democrat Debbie Halvorson has a slight edge over Republican challenger Martin Ozinga due to good name recognition and more campaign cash, Streb said.

Ozinga was not the winner of the Republican primary for the seat. The winner dropped out shortly after winning the primary, citing personal reasons and the time requirements of running the campaign.

"This has become, not surprisingly, a very nasty race very quickly," Streb said. Both candidates are running negative ads against the other, he said.

Ozinga has tried to link Halvorson to Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich. Halvorson has also tried to show unflattering ties between Ozinga and Blagojevich, as well as leveling accusations against Ozinga that he has not paid his taxes in the past, Streb said.

"When you get down to substantive issues, you see there are very distinct differences between the candidates. You have a true Democrat and a true Republican, in terms of how they line up on the issues," Streb said.

Green Party candidate Jason Wallace is also running for the 11th District seat.

"When you have a competitive campaign, a race that could be decided by two, three, four percentage points, if a third party candidate like the Green Party candidate picks up two, three, four percentage points, that could be enough to shift the outcome," Streb said.

Ultimately, Streb said, Wallace will not have the funds or the name recognition to make a big dent in the race's outcome.

"Really I think this race will come down to the Democrat and the Republican," Streb said.