Democrat Lauren Underwood appeared on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” on Wednesday to participate in a head-to-head forum with her opponent in a race for the 14th Congressional District.
But U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren failed to show up.
Although WTTW invited the Plano Republican to appear on the program in August, Hultgren’s campaign notified the show he could not fit the 7 p.m. slot into his busy schedule, moderator Carol Marin said.
Underwood appeared on the show alone, and Marin interviewed her about her run for office.
Underwood’s campaign focuses on health care reform, particularly defending people with pre-existing conditions against repeals of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The 32-year-old Naperville native said she decided to run for office after she witnessed Hultgren promise he only would support a version of Obamacare repeal that supported people with pre-existing conditions. He later went against his word and supported the American Health Care Act, making health care cost prohibitive for people with those conditions, she said.
“I was devastated,” said Underwood, who has a heart condition.
Hultgren has been representing the 14th Congressional District – which covers parts of DeKalb, McHenry, Kendall, Lake, DuPage and Will counties – since 2011. Underwood shifted to politics after Obama appointed her a senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Marin asked Underwood about Hultgren’s attack literature alleging Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan played a role in her decision to run against Hultgren.
“I’ve never met Michael Madigan,” Underwood said. “I’ve been dismayed by these attacks.”
Underwood maintains a pro-choice stance, supports gun control to curb street violence and sees comprehensive immigration reform as a “humane approach.”
Underwood, who defeated six white men in the primary, said race has never been an issue in her run for the 14th District – a swath of Illinois that is about 87 percent white.
“The people of the 14th will recognize the choice we have on the ballot, based on the level of representation we’ve had over the last eight years,” Underwood said.