ST. CHARLES – U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh said he would decide by Monday whether he would run in the 8th Congressional District or in the 14th, where he would continue to face off against incumbent U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield.
"You're going to know by Monday," said Walsh, R-McHenry. "You'll know soon enough what I'm going to do."
Walsh's trademark town hall and campaign stop drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 people Saturday in a dining room at the Colonial Restaurant on Main Street in St. Charles.
Walsh, a freshman Tea Party congressman who beat incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean by 291 votes, criticized the way the state's Democratic majority redrew the districts, thrusting him and other Republicans in races against each other.
"Republicans have done the same darn thing in other states," Walsh said. "I'm going to run where I live."
Walsh has pledged that he would serve six years and be done, saying the problem with Washington politicians is that they forget about the people who sent them there.
"I'm an odd kind of a duck," Walsh said. "I don't give a damn about my next election. .... I ran on a mission, I said ... I feel like I'm losing my country. I'm ticked off at Democrats and Republicans who have put us on a path where we're bankrupting our kids and our grandkids ... and away I went. ... Both Republicans and Democrats have got us to where our country is about to fall off a cliff."
Walsh acknowledged losing his temper in other town hall sessions and advocated for civility. At one point, when he asked whether they wanted California Democrat Nancy Pelosi to be House speaker again, a woman in the group called Pelosi a derogatory name. Walsh admonished her to be respectful.
Walsh said the fighting among Republicans and Democrats was worth it because the country is worth fighting for.
"We are on the cusp of losing this thing called America," Walsh said. "I am a Tea Party conservative first and a Republican second."
"We all have different visions for America," Walsh said. "There are about 20 of us in the House who are like me. .... If you sit where I sit politically, the name of the game has got to be to try to increase our ranks. If you ... just send status quo Republicans to Washington, you ain't changing anything. On the other side, if you are scared to death with what we're doing, the guys to get rid of are guys like me."
On the issues, Walsh said he would say no to campaign finance reform, yes to tax reform, no to Obama health care, yes to a resolution on term limits, no to allowing members of Congress to do insider trading and yes to deregulation.
Walsh also took Hultgren to task for a recent campaign video on his website.
"Randy Hultgren put out a video last week, 'The problem in Washington is, we need more civility,' " Walsh said, mimicking Hultren. "You always want to be kind of civil and respectful, but my God, right now we are fighting for the soul of this country. I don't want to elect civil statesmen. I want to elect revolutionaries who will pick the side they're on and respectfully – again – fight to save this country. ... Be glad we're fighting."
A spokesman from the Hultgren campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
After the town hall was over, St. Charles resident Earl Johnson, 83, said he hopes Walsh chooses to run in the 14th so he can vote for him.
"He's my kind of guy, really," Johnson said.
St. Charles resident Judy Hossack, 70, said she also hopes Walsh runs in the 14th.
"I thought it [the discussion] was very enlightening," Hossack said. "It didn't settle all of my questions, but I do feel that there are many like-minded people such as myself."
Streamwood resident Jim Cook, 77, said he came to see whether Walsh was as much as a rascal as depicted in the media.
"But he's not," Cook said. "I found the man interesting. ... He has a lot of good ideas. Except that he is too conservative for my point of view. ... I have not voted for a Republican in all my life."