Dennis Anderson, the Democratic challenger for the 14th Congressional District seat, is planning a series of town hall appearances in his second challenge to Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren.
Anderson, of Gurnee, said he plans to hold 25 town hall meetings in around the 14th District, which stretches from the Wisconsin border to southwest of Joliet and includes part eastern DeKalb County, including the cities of Sycamore and Sandwich. But what he said he really wants is a chance to debate Hultgren, who has said he's too busy serving in Congress at the moment.
"I'm hoping we get some invitations [from other groups], but I certainly intend on reaching out to him," Anderson said.
Hultgren, of Winfield, defeated Anderson in November 2012 with almost 59 percent of the vote despite President Barack Obama topping the Democratic ticket and garnering almost 58 percent of votes statewide. With Republicans expecting a stronger showing at the polls in midterm elections this fall, Hultgren could have less incentive to debate – and lend credibility – to a challenger.
In a prepared statement Friday, Hultgren did not directly address whether he would debate or appear with Anderson. Hultgren did say his time at this point is best spent focusing on addressing the needs of his constituents.
"I have heard about my opponent's press release announcing a series of campaign stops masked as town hall meetings in an effort to gin up financial support for his campaign," Hultgren said in the statement. "We will have plenty of time to campaign in the fall."
Anderson said the congressional calendar should allow time for them both to appear together at some point. Anderson said events that feature the incumbent and himself as challenger are a valuable service to the public.
"I think that seeing both of us on stage ... provides an opportunity for voters to see, to listen, to question and make a good determination," Anderson said.
Anderson's town-hall meeting tour kicks off Thursday in Woodstock, with the only DeKalb County event on the schedule so far is set for 6:45 p.m. June 25 at the Sandwich Public Library, 107 E. Center St.
"I certainly hope that the town halls will give people the opportunity to get to know me," Anderson said on Friday. "I tend to make myself as available as possible."
• Daily Chronicle Editor Eric Olson contributed to this story.