All eyes watching the increasingly heated congressional race between Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth have turned this week to a lawsuit filed by two Illinois state veterans' affairs workers against Duckworth and her former colleague.
Walsh initially brought up the January 2009 lawsuit during the raucous Tuesday debate in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
According to the Daily Herald, the lawsuit was filed in downstate Union County against Duckworth and Patricia Simms, administrator of Anna Veterans Home. The lawsuit was dismissed due to a lack of evidence, but a re-filed second complaint remains pending.
Though Walsh has described the matter as a wrongful termination complaint, the Chicago Tribune reports that the lawsuit was not filed as such. Rather, the suit alleges that Duckworth and Simmons intentionally inflicted emotional distress and violated state ethic laws.
Duckworth told the Tribune that the lawsuit is "generic" and an attempt by her Tea Party-backed Republican opponent to "distract voters from the real issues."
During a particularly raucous moment of the Tuesday debate, the rivals exchanged a series of personal barbs including Walsh's criticism of Duckworth being concerned with "picking out a dress" ahead of her Democratic National Convention address earlier this year.
Duckworth, a double amputee Iraq War veteran, responded to that comment by admitting that sometimes she "look[s] at the clothes that I wear. But for most of my adult life, I’ve worn one color -- it’s called camouflage.”
According to a Walsh press release quoted by the Capitol Fax blog, Walsh narrowly led Duckworth in a new poll commissioned by ChampionNews.net and conducted by We Ask America this week. The 8th District Illinois race has been the subject of multi-million TV ad buys on the part of both national Democratic and Republican groups.
A separate poll released prior to the debate by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported that Duckworth had a 10-point lead over Walsh.