Two candidates resort to old-fashioned ‘mudslinging’ in race for 19th Illinois House District seat
by JASON MEREL
Two candidates in the race for the 19th Illinois House District seat have resorted to old-fashioned smear campaigns as they make their final push for votes with less than a week before the March 17 primary election.
Incumbent Lindsey LaPointe’s campaign sent out mailers to residents accusing opponents Patti Vasquez and Joe Duplechin of being funded by right-wing donors, implying that they both cannot be trusted with women’s health issues and that they wouldn’t “stand up to the extreme Trump agenda.”
Infuriating Duplechin, his campaign fired back mailers alleging that a politically connected attorney represented LaPointe on a property tax appeal for a home she co-owns with an ex-boyfriend. The lawyer donated $18,000 over several years to re-elect former Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios, however, there doesn’t appear to be a link between the donations and LaPointe, according to provided documents from Duplechin’s campaign. LaPointe’s property did receive a tax reduction of $1,891 that was granted in 2019 under current Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi.
Duplechin’s mailer also attacks LaPointe as saying on social media that she is against property tax freezes and wants to increase other people’s taxes while keeping hers low. He also said in his mailers that he would be the one who would “keep people safe,” citing his police background.
“She’s a social worker, she knows I’m a combat veteran with PTSD and to think she would attack me personally is sickening,” Duplechin said. “She seems like she’s doing whatever she can to stay in power. It’s the same thing that’s been in Springfield for years. That’s why we need change.” Duplechin said that he grew up in and out of domestic violence shelters due to an abusive father and stepfather so he did not take the smear allegations lightly.
LaPointe’s mailer says “insiders behind Duplechin’s campaign worked to elect an extreme politician – even after that politician had repeated incidents of domestic violence, including trying to choke a woman with a phone cord.”
The “insider” has donated to Friends of Ken Dunkin, who is a former state representative and former Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago commissioner. Dunkin was a frequent supporter of former Governor Bruce Rauner but was asked by the former governor to step down over allegations by women of sexual harassment. Dunkin said he would not resign and called the allegations “baseless” in published reports. He was later replaced by Cam Davis.
“Nine out of 10 people I’ve talked to think that’s me that choked someone with a phone cord,” Duplechin said. “I have to explain to my 15-year-old daughter, ‘No, that’s not your mom she’s talking about.”
Vasquez said that the mailers attacking her stance on women’s rights are ridiculous and cross a line.
“You always see these mailers and no one is ever held accountable for their lies,” Vasquez said. “Run on your politics, run on your strengths.” Vasquez said that she is running a positive campaign and that you can see her in the neighborhood going door-to-door to meet voters.
The portion in LaPointe’s mailer about Vasquez says “Bonnin-Vasquez’s campaign is funded by right-wing Republicans who backed a candidate trying to strip away a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest.”
Vasquez said she was unsure which donor the mailer referred to and LaPointe’s campaign said that former WGN 720 radio host Steve Cochran donated $500 to Vasquez’s campaign and that he had voted for Republican candidates from 2000 to 2016 until he took a Democratic ballot in 2018.
“If someone disagrees with my stance on reproductive health but still chooses to donate to my campaign, they must feel very strongly about my ability as a legislator,” Vasquez said.
Others who have donated to Vasquez’s campaign include comedians Lewis Black and Hannibal Buress, each donating $1,000, as well as Zanies comedy clubs, where she had performed stand-up comedy. (Editor’s note: Buress, in particular, was instrumental in calling attention in his act for years about allegations from women that comedian Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. Cosby was convicted of sexual assault in 2018 and is serving time in a Pennsylvania state prison.)
Vasquez said she is a survivor of sexual assault and harassment, who documented her experience in 2016, following Donald Trump’s infamous locker room tape discussing grabbing women by their private parts.
“I get that people do mudslinging, but this is just reckless,” Vasquez said. “You expect to be attacked but these are all out lies and to be diminished and to have so many women like me look at me that way is ghastly.”
But LaPointe said that she stands by her campaign.
“It’s important voters know who really is supporting my opponents and how they have acted in the past when the political spotlight wasn’t shining on them,” LaPointe said in a statement.
“We have learned from watching the mess in Springfield the last few years that we need fresh faces and cool heads who come in with a strong commitment to helping their constituents and putting the right policies in place – not more politicians who say one thing and do another or who talk more than they listen.”
LaPointe said that she is running a campaign focused on introducing herself to the voters and “explaining my commitment to putting public service and policy first, and highlighting the different candidate choices through voter communication.”