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Candidate Q & A: 6th Congressional District Democratic Challenger Sean Casten

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The race for the 6th congressional district in Illinois is considered a toss-up by political observers.

CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley goes one-on-one with the Democratic challenger in the race, political newcomer Sean Casten.

Blakley: Did voters in your district benefit from the Trump tax cut Roskam strongly backed.

Casten: What's factually true is that 83 per cent of this tax cut went to the one per cent and corporations. The donors are really happy with it. The corporations have overwhelmingly used it to pay dividends and stock buybacks, and follow the math here, 35 per cent of U.S. equities are owned by foreigners.

That meant more money left the country than went to 99 per cent of Americans.

Blakley: You've advocated for rolling back that tax cut?

Casten: It just an irresponsible bill. We were also prior to passage of that tax cut at a point where wealth and inequality in this country was approaching record highs not seen since before the Great Depression.

And in what reasonable world do we say what we need to do is give more money to the wealthy? I think there's a lot of priorities that the country had that we still have, and the only thing that tax bill had done is give us fewer resources to fund those priorities.

Blakley: And Casten has blasted Congressman Roskam for his votes to repeal Obamacare.

Casten: He voted 62 times to repeal the ACA. Prior to the ACA, there were no protections for people with preexisting conditions. He voted to repeal preexisitng conditions 62 times. They framed this is as repeal and replace but never once introduced a replacement bill.

Blakley: What has changed in this district that makes this race so much tighter than Peter Roskam's previous races?

Casten: I don't actually think the district has changed. I think the character of the Republican party has changed. The first manifestation of how the Republican party was changing was when Donald Trump ran for president, and this district overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton to  Trump.

Peter voted to remove birthright citizenship under Obama. He voted to deport people who self-identified under DACA under Obama. Trump is carrying out an agenda that is completely consistent with Peter Roskam's values. That's why he's not calling him out.

Blakley: Give us your closing statement. What would your closing statement to voters be?

Casten:  What I would really want is for this to be a referendum on values. It's unfortunate we're running this one against someone who doesn't share my values and unfortunately there's not a lot of room in his party for people who do right now.

Blakley's Takeaway: The one thing that's unavoidable here is how the Trump factor will play out in this district. Peter Roskam has taken care not to criticize President Trump too often or too harshly, while also avoiding his harsh rhetoric.

Sean Casten has been an outspoken critic of the president. The sixth congressional district rejected Trump two years ago while re-electing Roskam. This time, Roskam's hoping voters dislike for Trump, won't rub off on him.

RELATED: Candidate Peter Roskam, Republican Incumbent For The 6th District 

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