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Duffy, Lassa spar on jobs, taxes in Wausau debate


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – The two main candidates in the 7th congressional district race dug in their heels Tuesday, accusing each other of supporting policies that have cost the state more than 150,000 jobs since the recession began in late 2007.

Democrat Julie Lassa said her Republican opponent Sean Duffy favors tax loopholes that she says ship jobs overseas. Duffy fired back, arguing that policies Lassa supported as chair of the Senate economic development committee have driven jobs out of Wisconsin.

The two also distanced themselves from each other on abortion. Duffy would not allow exceptions for victims or rape or incest, defending his belief that human life begins at the moment of conception. Lassa says she supports a woman's choice and favors abortions that are “safe, legal and, most of all, rare.”

Duffy, the former Ashland County district attorney, and Lassa, a state senator from Stevens Point, narrowly agreed on certain issues during the hour-long debate at UW-Marathon County. Both say the federal health care reform law passed earlier this year should be tweaked to eliminate a provision requiring mandatory coverage. But Lassa opposes repealing the bill, an option Duffy says he'd consider as long as there was another bill to replace it.

The candidates also shared unanimous support for defining clear objectives in the war in Afghanistan and bringing American troops home as quickly as possible. Each also favors securing the U.S. Border as the first step toward solving the nation's problem with illegal immigration.

Independent candidate Gary Kauther was not allowed to participate in the debate because he did not meet a 15 percent threshold of support in public opinion polling in June. Kauther will participate in the final debate Wednesday night in Superior.