Raja Krishnamoorthi is promising two things to voters this primary: to focus on the economy and to "enlarge the circle of inclusion" in the United States. By the latter, he means, he wants to fight discrimination, which he has experienced and says he recognizes plagues LGBT communities.
Krishnamoorthi, a Hoffman Estates resident, is running for Congress in the Democratic 8th District primary against Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth.
Krishnamoorthi was born in India and raised in Peoria, Ill. He attended Princeton University and then Harvard Law School. He has worked as deputy treasurer for Illinois and as a partner of Kirkland & Ellis Law firm. He also served as an advisor President Obama's 2004 Senate campaign and his 2008 presidential run. In 2010, Krishnamoorthi made an unsuccessful run for Illinois State Comptroller.
Krishnamoorthi took some time to talk with Windy City Times about his campaign and about his support for LGBT rights.
NOTE: View downloadable election guide charts at the following link. This election chart was updated online on Tuesday March 13 with corrections and updates. www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/WCT_2012_primarychartsforweb.pdf .
Windy City Times: So what has prompted your run for Congress?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: Two words: Joe Walsh [ the Republican incumbent in the race ] . He is my congressman, and I very loosely use the word my "representative." He doesn't represent the best interests of the constituents of this district or people that I know. He has pursued a very highly ideological and cultural agenda, which runs counter to the interests of the people in my district. More importantly, he hasn't focused on the number-one issue facing us as a district and arguably the country, which is how do we revive our economy?
WCT: What other issues do you want to tackle?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: The number-one issue driving my candidacy is: How do we get the economy moving again? How do we create jobs for working class and middle-class families?
I care very much about enlarging our circle of tolerance and inclusion and diversity. I happen to be South Asian-American, and I was born in India. I think it's crucial that we who demand tolerance for our way of life, for our culture and our background, that we form a broad coalition with all those who are the targets of intolerance, whether they be Latino, African-American, gay, Jewish-American, you name it. Arguably, it goes back in my desire as well to enlarge the circle of prosperity. I think the two go hand in hand.
WCT: What are the most pressing issues facing LGBT people in your mind?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: Well, there are certain things that are a no-brainer. One: we have to repeal DOMA [ the Defense of Marriage Act ] right away. I think it's unconstitutional on its face, and I will support efforts to repeal. I also believe that we should enact the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which will help to address the problem of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace.
Third, I'm pro-marriage equality. I think that we have to continue to talk about this issue and explain to people again and again that it's so important that we not discriminate on the basis of who you love. That should not even be in the equation. I think that we should be celebrating people who would commit to each other and who want to create a family. We should be celebrating the formation of families in this country and not tearing people down.
WCT: Given your focus on the economy, would you vote in favor of additional funding for fighting HIV?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: The answer is yes. We have to do this. In the same way that we've promoted funding to combat HIV/AIDS abroad, we should do the same thing at home. I want to make sure that minority communities, African American and Latino and other communities receive a fair amount of funding as well. We just have to deal with it.
WCT: Do you have a strategy for ending the deadlock in Congress?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: My belief is that for one thing, we have to give a pink slip to congressmen like Joe Walsh. If there's any kind of fire, he'll throw fire on it. He creates crises. He manufactures media moments. The source of that is "Okay, how do we bash this group?" And when you do that enough times, you really paralyze government.
WCT: But what is your strategy?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: We have to stand for what we believe in. There are principals that you don't compromise on and then there are tactics on how you get to your goals. I'm more than willing to compromise on tactics. You tell me the goal is eradicate HIV/AIDS in the United States. I don't think that's something we should compromise on. I think that's significant public health problem. Perhaps you, on the other side of the aisle, have a different idea about how do we get there. I'm willing to talk to you about it, so long as it doesn't involve prejudice or discrimination.
WCT: In this primary, you are up against Tammy Duckworth, a well-known LGBT supporter in this country. Why should LGBT voters back you in the primary?
Raja Krishnamoorthi: She's a very worthy opponent to have, and I salute the service and sacrifice of all veterans because I couldn't enjoy the freedom I have enjoy without their service to our country.
One thing I bring to the table is [ being able to deal with ] an issue that bedevils not just the LGBT community but all communities in our district: the economy. It's stagnant. There are signs of recovery. We are seeing some signs of job growth, but countless individuals have either lost their job, are in jeopardy of losing their jobs or have given up looking. Unless we address that problem, it's very difficult to address all the other problems and challenges that we face in the country. Given my public and privateespecially my private-sector experienceI believe I am the best prepared to deal with that challenge.
See www.rajaforcongress.com .