GOP candidates for state Senate speak at Tea Party forum
DANVILLE — Six Republican candidates for three state Senate seats in central Illinois showed unanimity on a number of issues Wednesday night and avoided taking any shots at each other.
The six, who spoke at an Illiana Tea Party forum at Danville Area Community College attended by about 120 people, will face off against each other in pairs in the Republican primary election next March.
At the forum were Alan Nudo and John Bambenek, candidates in the 52nd Senate District; state Sen. Shane Cultra and state Rep. Jason Barickman, candidates in the 53rd District; and Tom Pliura and state Rep. Chapin Rose, candidates in the 51st District.
All six said they support the Second Amendment and would support concealed-carry legislation in Illinois, which is the only state that bars gun owners from carrying a weapon. Five of the six — all but Nudo — said they are gun owners.
The only real difference came on the issue of civil unions, where every candidate except Nudo voiced opposition.
"I'm against gay marriage, but I support civil unions so that people can conduct business in the state. It's the same as I said at the county board," said Nudo, who voted for a civil-unions resolution earlier this summer on the Champaign County Board.
Pliura said he was "disappointed" to see the passage of a civil-unions law in Illinois earlier this year, saying it "wasn't necessary" and "wasn't appropriate."
The LeRoy physician and attorney said he was "strongly opposed to gay marriage."
"I don't think society ought to be condoning that anymore than, quite frankly, if a guy wants to get married with a donkey," he said. "If you want to have relations with your donkey, that's fine. Just don't ask me to say, 'OK, now that we have a civil union here, my donkey can get health care benefits.'"
The six also seemed to agree on the need for right-to-work legislation in Illinois, although Cultra seemed to hedge, saying it is legislation "that we need to look at."
Several of the candidates said their top priority is defeating President Obama in 2012.
"I am so committed to defeating Barack Obama," Cultra said, without endorsing any Republican contender. "Any one of them would be better than what we have."