Ahmad, Hughes Challenging U.S. Rep Sean Casten In IL-06: Primary 2024

IL-O6 — U.S. Rep. Sean Casten faces two challengers in the March 19 Democratic Primary in Illinois’s 6th Congressional District, Mahnoor Ahmad of Oak Brook and Chicagoan Charles Hughes.

Following the 2020 U.S. Census, IL-06 was redrawn incorporating much of the 3rd Congressional district, pushing south into south suburban Cook and Chicago’s Southwest Side neighborhoods.

IL-06 includes all or sections of the suburban Cook County communities of Alsip, Chicago Ridge, Palos Heights, Worth, Crestwood, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Palos Hills, Palos Heights, Hickory Hills, Justice, and extending into the Chicago neighborhoods of Clearing, Beverly and Mount Greenwood; and in DuPage, Downers Grove, Oak Brook, Oak Brook Terrace, Lisle, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Lombard, Elmhurst, Darien, Hinsdale and Willow Springs.

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Incumbent Casten flipped the district in 2018, famously toppling incumbent Republican Rep. Peter Roskam in the old sixth district, which encompassed a large swath of DuPage County.

Casten’s a climate scientist who’s worked to pass clean energy legislation to reduce the federal government’s carbon footprint, expand access to electric vehicles, and invest in clean energy technology. He introduced legislation to address the gun violence epidemic.

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“My top priorities are combatting the climate crisis, protecting a woman’s right to choose, defending democracy, and lowering costs for families — like prescription drugs and child care,” Casten said in his Patch candidate questionnaire. “But, there are a plethora of issues I am working to address in Congress, like flooding, housing, health care, education, gun control, and many more.”

In January, pro-Palestinian protesters forced a League of Women Voters candidates forum featuring Casten and his two challengers to end early, chanting “Sean Casten, you cannot hide. You are funding genocide.”

“I have consistently called for the creation of conditions that will lead to a permanent peace — with two, fully autonomous states at peace with each other between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” Casten said in his Patch candidate questionnaire. “Hamas’ stated goal to eliminate the state of Israel is inconsistent with that peace — but so too is the rhetoric from the far right in the Israeli Knesset.”

Oak Brook-resident Mahnoor Ahmad is a public health advocate. She’s running a “100-percent funded” people campaign and is proud of not accepting contributions from large corporations or special interest PACS, including Big Pharma companies.

Ahmad claims that Casten does not listen to constituents and “is okay with the status quo.”

“Most Americans call for universal health care. He is against it. Most Americans are for a Ceasefire especially in this district that includes a significant Muslim and Arab population,” Ahmad said in her Patch candidate questionnaire. “One of the highest concentrations of Palestinians in a congressional district … There are several urgent issues that need addressing in a strong urgent way. The genocide in Gaza, the looming climate change catastrophe, rising income inequality, health care that doesn’t work for us.”

Ahmad, the daughter of physicians, said her experience as a public health advocate has given her a firsthand view of “how broken our system is.”

“I would sponsor HR 1976, Medicare for All Act of 2021, because I am passionate about making sure everyone has healthcare. My parents were both doctors. I saw them treat patients in their offices even if they could not pay,”Ahmad said. “Healthcare is a right not a privilege. Medicare For All would save over $300 billion and 68,000 lives a year according to a Yale study. It would be good for our economy and make US businesses more competitive in the world economy because businesses would not be paying for expensive health insurance for their employees.”

She said military aid to Israel must be halted immediately. “Under the Leahy principle there are multiple reports from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’tselem, and the UN that show multiple human rights violations,” Ahmad said.

Charles Hughes, of Chicago, is making another bid for Congress in the Democratic primary, having made similar runs in 2018, 2020 and 2022 primaries. He works for public utility and got his start in politics working as a precinct captain for former Congressman Bill Lipinski, a South Side powerhouse who was elected to 10 terms in the U.S. House.

Hughes, who resides outside the district in Chicago’s Southwest Side Garfield Ridge neighborhood, says he will move into the congressional district if he wins. He is hoping to attract disenchanted Arab American and Muslim voters upset with the incumbent Casten’s response to the Gaza crisis.

“America should stop military aid to Israel and call for a cease fire,” Hughes said in his most recent Patch questionnaire. “Then use diplomatic means for a peace treaty and humanitarian aid to Palestinians.”

If elected, Hughes says he would fix the economy by tamping down government spending and putting more money into middle class jobs.

Casten and Ahmad both feel the United States has done enough to protect the southern border, and the short and long-term immigration policies need to be addressed. All three candidates are pro-choice.

The winner will face Republican Niki Conforti in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in the Illinois Primary. To register to vote on election day, voters must bring a government-issued ID and another form of identification, such as a utility bill with their name and address, to their regular polling place. To find your polling location and ballot, visit:

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