MARION - Congressional candidate for 12th CD Jason Plummer is demanding answers from his Democrat opponent on why he thinks the economy is "getting better." Bill Enyart's campaign didn't provide an answer Thursday afternoon when campaign spokesman Jason Bresler was asked to explain by Illinois Review.
Plummer's campaign sent out a press release hours before the second debate tonight saying, "Voters across this District are struggling, and the policies my opponent openly supports are destroying the Southern Illinois economy," Plummer said. "Every county in the District has seen its unemployment rate rise over the last three months. It is unacceptable to claim that the Southern Illinois economy is getting better when it's clearly getting worse."
Despite a District-wide unemployment rate of greater than 10.2 percent, Enyart said that the job market was "getting better under President Obama" at the August 15 debate in Carbondale.
While the national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent and the Illinois rate is 8.9 percent, the 12th District's unemployment rate remains stuck in the double-digits. The five Illinois counties with the highest unemployment rate are all located in Illinois' 12th Congressional District. Alexander County has the highest rate in the state at 13.3 percent, and Pulaski has the second highest with a 12.5 unemployment rate. Franklin County is in third with a 12.3 percent rate, and Perry and Union Counties have the fourth-highest unemployment rate at 12 percent.
Across Southern Illinois, the economic climate continues to get worse. Franklin County, which already had the third-highest unemployment rate in the state, is losing more than 300 quality jobs after BRP announced the closure of its Benton plant.
The economic devastation does not stop in Franklin County. Illinois' typical household income decreased by 3 percent from last year, and the state's poverty rate increased by 1.2 percent from 2011. More than 1.8 million Illinoisans are currently living below the poverty line. Our once-prosperous state also had the nation's highest foreclosure rate in August, with one out of every 298 households in some stage of foreclosure.
"Struggling families in Southern Illinoisans deserve to know why one of their Congressional candidates doesn't understand their District," Plummer said. "Jobs are fleeing the area and communities are shrinking due to the economic devastation in the District, and my trial lawyer opponent doesn't get how serious the economic situation is.
"More than ever, this area needs a Congressman who is in touch with the needs of the entire District, not just their liberal base," Plummer added.
Thursday night's debate, which begins at 7 p.m., will be streamed live at BND.com and TheSouthern.com. It will also be carried on WSIU Public Radio at 91.9 FM, 90.3 FM, and 88.9 FM. It will also be broadcast on WSIU Public Television at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 21.
Jason Plummer's staff will live-tweet information and direct quotes from tonight's 90-minute debate between Jason and his opponents.
Follow Jason Plummer on Twitter at Twitter.com/JasonPlummer for up-to-the-minute insight on the debate. Use the hashtag #12Debate to join in the conversation.
No information was provided from the Enyart campaign on how to follow his debate comments, nor from the Green Party candidate participating in Thursday's debate, Paula Bradford.