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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 12:07PM

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

Democrat Tammy Duckworth didn’t take the Republican congressman up on a wager he laid out at their Tuesday night debate — but if she had, 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 had talked to the restaurant owner and had 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 Care Act] would impose a significant added expense without contributing any added revenue . . . you ask me if my business is better off before it or after, the answer is obviously before,” Kalkounos said.

Still, Duckworth wasn’t conceding that she would have lost the bet.

Her spokesman said that when Duckworth sat down with Kalkounos, he wanted a specific provision of Obama’s health-care law fixed. That had to do with huge penalties against small-business owners who have more than 50 employees. For those with 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.

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