2 incumbent Illinois Democrats facing off in next month's primary election debate on FOX 32

Two incumbent congressional Democrats facing off in next month’s primary election debated on FOX 32 Chicago Friday.

La Grange's Rep. Marie Newman and Downers Grove’s Rep. Sean Casten agree on many issues, including guns and abortion rights. But, they strongly disagree on Middle East policy.

The newly drawn 6th Congressional District may have the country's biggest population of Palestinian Americans and includes several large Muslim mosques.

Rep. Newman, who said she opposes Israeli occupation of the West Bank and any blockade of Gaza, was one of just eight "no" votes on what she called $1 billion in "extra" U.S. funding for Israel's anti-missile system, the Iron Dome.

"Let me be very clear. I think the congresswoman's vote was an extremely dangerous vote," said Casten.

He called Iron Dome a defensive system needed to protect Israeli civilians.

Newman said she supported the original appropriation for Iron Dome.

"They then came back and asked us for an extra billion dollars at a time when people can't afford their house, can't afford health care, can't afford many things," said Newman.

Newman, who said she favors people over political donors, said peace groups urged her to vote "no."

The two Democrats also went at it over ethics. 


Newman faces a House Ethics committee review because, several years ago, she promised potential rival Iyman Chehade that, if he did not run against her, she'd give him a $135,000 a year congressional staff job. 

He sued when she didn't do that. 

Campaign finance records reveal Newman has paid Chehade about $78,000 from her political fund.

"There has been no wrongdoing," Newman said. "And it's a zero merit matter." 

Newman cited 6,000 complaints a year are filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

"Her case is one of seven of those 6,000 that were referred to the full (House Ethics) committee for review," said Casten.

A donor to Newman’s campaign fund has filed a complaint against Casten.  He said there’s been no action taken on the complaint.

The debate can be seen on a special edition of Flannery Fired Up, airing at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as 8:30 a.m. Sunday.