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Biggert, Foster offer sharp contrasts in final congressional debate

Candidates for 11th Congressional district Republican Judy Biggert DemocrBill Foster get set moments before their debate begins WTTW Wednesday October

Candidates for the 11th Congressional district, Republican Judy Biggert and Democrat Bill Foster get set moments before their debate begins at WTTW Wednesday October 24, 2012. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 11, 2013 10:45AM

Two west suburban congressional candidates took shots at each other on budget issues, immigration and gay marriage Wednesday night, offering two distinct voices in their final matchup just 12 days before the election.

While Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert said allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would be catastrophic to the economy, her Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, said those cuts showed no evidence of stimulating the economy or creating jobs.

The two 11th Congressional District hopefuls met up on WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight,” with Phil Ponce moderating.

Foster was on the attack most of the night, including when the subject of the federal Dream Act came up.

It’s something that Biggert opposes. She explained that she felt bad about it, but she believes that no one should be allowed to jump ahead in line to get into the country.

“Her position is she feels really bad but she voted no,” on the Dream Act, Foster said. “I voted yes. It’s one of my proudest votes in Congress.”

The Dream Act never made it through Congress, but in June, President Barack Obama OKd a plan to let eligible young adults who were brought here as children apply to get work permits and avoid deportation for two years. .

The 11th Congressional District is one of three hotly contested races in northern Illinois, one that could help shift the balance of power in Washington.

Biggert, of Hinsdale, has been in Congress for 14 years, but after a congressional remap, she’s running in a new district heavily favoring Democrats.

Foster, who lives in Naperville, served one term in Congress representing a neighboring district. He lost his re-election bid and now is in a statistical dead heat with Biggert, according to recent polls.

Each candidate has spent millions of dollars on the race and launched attack ads against the other.

During the debate, Biggert blasted Foster for suggesting the district wasn’t specifically drawn for him.

“The 8th and the 11th were drawn for Democrats and the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] has said that,” she snapped.

On same-sex marriage, Biggert said she was on her way to supporting it but wasn’t quite there yet. “I think this is a matter for the state,” she said.

Foster pounced.

“I support marriage equality, it is not ambiguous,” Foster said.

Foster later acknowledged that he came to support gay marriage relatively recently and could not recall if he was on record opposing it during his last unsuccessful run for Congress in the former 14th Congressional District, a more Republican-leaning district.

They were asked to comment on the controversial comment that Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock made in a Tuesday debate. Mourdock was explaining the only exception he had for abortion was the life of the mother. “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen,” he said.

“I think that was not a good statement at all,” Biggert said.

Foster said it was symptomatic of a whole party gone astray.

“It’s something you see over and over,” Foster said. “The extreme, rightward lurch of the Republican Party.”

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