Get to know your candidates for Illinois US Senator: Duckworth vs. Salvi

By Robin Sluzas, Staff Reporter

Elias Gonzalez

Incumbent U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat, is running for reelection against Republican challenger, Kathy Salvi, who has never held public office.

The candidates’ responses to questions confirmed the political arena remains combative ahead of Election Day.

Both candidates’ platform positions were on display at a televised forum hosted on Oct. 27 by WTTW, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times.

The candidates

Duckworth is a former two-term U.S. house representative for the 8th Congressional District and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Duckworth and her husband have two daughters.

Salvi is a former assistant public defender for the Lake County Public Defender’s Office who entered private practice as a partner at Salvi & Maher. She and her husband have six children, three grandchildren and live in Mundelein, Illinois.

Bill Redpath, a Libertarian, is also on the ballot. Redpath is the managing director of Summit Ridge Group’s Chicago office, a financial consulting firm. He has run for office as a Libertarian candidate on seven different occasions, but has never won. Redpath also served as the chairman of the Libertarian National Committee for four years.

Gun rights/crime

Duckworth and Salvi debated about their gun rights policies and what needs to be changed to decrease rising crime.

Duckworth supports sensible gun control legislation.

“One of the things we’ve worked on and passed was the Safer Act,” Duckworth said.

The Bipartisan Communities Safer Act provides $15 billion for mental health services as well as funding for school safety resources for law enforcement officers. She supports red flag laws and is against illegal straw purchases.

Duckworth also supports passing an assault weapon and highcapacity magazine ban to decrease guns on Illinois streets.

Duckworth spoke on her experience serving in the U.S. Air Force.

“I carried an M-16 for 23 years. I know what these assault weapons would do to the human body,” Duckworth said.

If elected, Salvi said she will focus on mental health treatment, an issue she believes contributes to gun violence.

“We have a crisis in mental health; we also have unsafe streets,” Salvi said. “The reason that I have the unanimous endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police is because of your softoncrime policies,” Salvi said to Duckworth in the forum.

Salvi did not address whether she would support an assault weapons ban.


Salvi supports the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision handed down this past summer because she said it took the decision from an “activist” court to individual states.

“I support exceptions and regulation of big business abortions,” she said. “I am pro-life, pro-woman and pro-child.”

The exceptions Salvi supports are if a mother’s life is threatened, and in cases of rape or incest.

Duckworth, if elected, said she would vote to codify Roe v. Wade with the existing 24week restriction, which is written in current Illinois law. “My daughters — I’m not going to let them grow up in a world where they have fewer rights than I do,” she said.

Student loan forgiveness

Duckworth supports student loan forgiveness but believes it should be offered only once, she said. Instead, she will focus on lower tuition costs to allow anyone to attend college and graduate with no debt.

“It’s why I introduced a bill that would allow people to gain money for college tuition in exchange for national service,” Duckworth said.

Citing education funding military personnel receive for their service, she believes other service programs like trade, food and those becoming teachers should qualify for funding as well.

Salvi does not support Biden’s student loan forgiveness program created by executive order, saying it was a midterm ploy to gain votes.

“To saddle every single Illinois and American taxpayer with student loan forgiveness, not only does that mean that the paper that loan is written on is worth nothing, the contract is nothing, but also, it’s going to drive tuition up,” Salvi said.

Teacher shortage; college student assistance

Salvi cited school shutdowns due to the pandemic.

“I will support, as the next U.S. senator, funding for the state and local districts to get reading and math specialists into the schools to help our kids catch up,” Salvi said.

Salvi supports trade school programs like LIFT — which stands for “Leaders Innovating for Tomorrow” — an alternative high school based in Mattoon serving seven counties and community colleges for employment preparation, she said.

Duckworth supports giving tuition credit to teachers working in underserved communities to reduce student loan burden, including a tax credit, to offset the purchase of classroom school supplies.

She also supported the American Rescue Plan, which provides $40 billion in funding to increase safety on college campuses, support for social and emotional support programs, distance learning and extra funding to assist students financially impacted by the pandemic.


Duckworth said she supports passing comprehensive immigration reform that begins by recognizing issues at the U.S. border. She voted for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Biden in November 2021, that doubled the number of border control agents and increased border security and funding.

“I go by three things,” Duckworth said. “It has to be practical, it has to be humane and it has to be fair.”

Duckworth said people used as political pawns should be supported by granting status via employment, paying taxes and contributing to social security coffers resulting in protection from deportation. Duckworth supports DACA, a program that allows certain people who came into the U.S. as children to remain in the country. She also sponsors a bipartisan bill facilitating military personnel access to green card resident status.

Salvi said Duckworth did not support protections on the southern U.S. border including new border and customs control agents, contradicting Duckworth’s previous statement of support.

If elected, Salvi plans to work in a bipartisan manner to find meaningful immigration reform, she said.

The economy and inflation

“This is the number one reason, probably the predominant reason, that I am running,” Salvi said referring to the Inflation Reduction Act that Duckworth supported. “Every single family in Illinois, every worker, our standard of living is affected because of the reckless bill that Senator Duckworth voted for.”

Salvi blamed the Keystone Pipeline shutdown for U.S. economic troubles and said a strong economy would rely on energy independence versus energy dependence.

“Oil and pharmaceuticals are the two sectors of the economy where they have made record profits and continue to do so throughout the pandemic,” Duckworth said. “It is why I voted for the Inflation Reduction Act that is bringing down pharmaceutical prices.” Duckworth introduced the Gas Price Gouging Prevention Act to stop large oil and gas companies from increasing gas prices at the expense of U.S. consumers.

The latest FiveThirtyEight poll from Nov. 7 shows Duckworth ahead of Salvi by 15.3 points at 55.5% and Salvi polling at 40.2%.