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Duckworth lucky she didn’t take Walsh’s bet

Tammy Duckworth Democratic challenger for 8th Congressional District seheld by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh during their third five debates Meadows

Tammy Duckworth, Democratic challenger for the 8th Congressional District seat, held by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh during their third of five debates at the Meadows Club, Rolling Meadows, Illinois, October 9, 2012. | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 12, 2012 12:11PM

Turns out, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh probably would have won the bet.

Democrat Tammy Duckworth didn’t take up the Republican congressman on a wager he laid out at a Tuesday night debate — but had she, it sounds like she would have lost.

The proposed bet involved Chicago Prime Steakhouse in Schaumburg.

Walsh insisted that the restaurant owner was concerned about how “Obamacare” affected his business. Duckworth said she also talked to the restaurant owner and heard a different story. She accused Walsh of talking too much and not listening.

On Wednesday, the managing partner of Chicago Prime Steakhouse made it abundantly clear in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that he didn’t have anything against either candidate.

“They’re both welcome in my restaurant,” he said. “There’s no question, both of them have a sincere interest in understanding what is happening to me. They both were very, very adamant about it. They wanted to understand.”

But after getting besieged with media calls Wednesday, Andy-John G. Kalkounos said he thought he should release a statement to respond to the “high volume of reporters” from everywhere from Washington newspapers to the Huffington Post.

“If I haven’t taken 30 calls here, they just keep writing notes down,” with phone messages, he said.

Kalkounos said that speaking as a businessman, he does have concerns about how Obama’s health care plan would affect his business. The issue came up at the Tuesday night debate in Rolling Meadows where Walsh and Duckworth gave different takes on their conversations with the owner.

Walsh challenged Duckworth to sit down with Chicago Prime next week to settle the matter, and if he was wrong, he would donate $2,500 to her campaign. Duckworth declined, saying she would not “grandstand,” with him.

“Based purely as a business owner, the [Affordable Health Care Act] would impose a significant added expense without contributing any added revenue,” Kalkounos said. “As it relates to AHCA, you ask me if my business is better off before it or after, the answer is obviously before.”

Still, Duckworth wasn’t conceding a loss on the bet she declined to make.

Her spokesman said when Duckworth sat down with Kalkounos, the restaurant owner wanted a specific provision of Obama’s health care law fixed.

That had to do with a provision that now levels huge penalties against small business owners who have more than 50 employees. For those who have just more than 50, Duckworth supports a sliding scale and would work to lessen the impact on small businesses, her spokesman said.

Walsh said he would work to repeal Obamacare all together.

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