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Halvorson Defends Firing of Campaign Manager

JOLIET, Ill. — Illinois Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a top Republican target this cycle, said Friday she had no regrets about dismissing campaign manager Travis Worl less than three months before Election Day.

“He did a great job getting us to here, and we’re going into Labor Day and it’s about moving forward to get to Election Day,” the freshman Democrat said of her former campaign chief, who was fired earlier this week. “And you know, campaigns change directions a lot of times. And again, it’s not about one person, it’s about what I need to do and what the campaign needs to do for the district.”

Julie Merz, a staffer for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.), has been tapped to replace Worl as Halvorson’s top campaign aide. She will start next week.

Merz has had stints with Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Dennis Moore (Kan.), who are both members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and represent politically tough districts for Democrats. Worl, who joined Halvorson’s campaign in March, recently sparked controversy in the central Illinois district when he suggested that Republican nominee Adam Kinzinger was lying about his military record.

Halvorson made her comments following a stop at the local ironworkers union here, friendly territory for the pro-labor Democrat. Asked if she was concerned about the shake-up and the outcome for November, Halvorson went on offense.

“Absolutely not, if I was worried about that I’d be worried about a hundred other things, she said. “And I’m a tough cookie. If I want to do something, I’m going to do something and I’m not going to worry about what people are going to think about me when it comes to making major decisions.”

A Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted Aug. 4-5 showed Kinzinger ahead of Halvorson, 51 percent to 40 percent. The survey, which was performed for Kinzinger’s campaign, surveyed 400 likely voters and had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Halvorson, a former state senator, was elected in 2008.

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