Jan Schakowsky and Max Rice at the League of Women Voters online forum Monday night.

In the extremely unlikely event that he wins the 9th District Congressional race next month, Republican candidate Max Rice says he will “get rid of the Republican label and become an independent.”

Rice’s comments came during a virtual forum with veteran Democratic incumbent Jan Schakowsky Monday night. The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Schakowsky is a liberal representative in a liberal district, which includes parts of Chicago plus Evanston and other suburbs. She took 71% of the vote in 2020, and has been in office since 1998.

A consumer advocate and abortion-rights activist, Schakowsky also said that Americans are “in the fight of their lives defending our democracy.”

Rice tried to become the Republican congressional candidate in 2018, but came in fourth out of four in the GOP primary.

In this year’s Republican primary, Rice, who is an energy consultant, ran unopposed.

But with basically no chance to win in the deep blue district come November, Rice had nothing to lose by saying things like Democrats are “smoking the Hunter Biden peace pipe.”

He also spoke a bit in Hebrew, and with 24 hours until the start Yom Kippur, said to Schakowsky (who is also Jewish) that “I want you to be in the Book of Life but not in the book of Congress.”

Schakowsky, on the other hand, followed the League’s forum rules of not criticizing her opponent.

The incumbent listed her work on the Affordable Care Act as well as helping to pass a bi-partisan bill for online consumer protection among major accomplishments.

Schakowsky also called the recent Inflation Reduction Act a piece of “landmark legislation” which will reduce prescription drug costs while investing in clean energy.

She also said that while the United States is the “richest country in the world, we pay twice as much for health care” as do those in similar nations, so “Medicare for all’ would help significantly.

Rice said he would be non-partisan, not bi-partisan, noting he would “work with AOC (ultra-liberal Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) or Marjorie Taylor Greene (far-right Republican) if necessary.”

Rice also said that improving the environment requires an “all hands on deck approach” to protect water, topsoil, and air quality, while reducing energy costs.

He also said there are more than 400 federal agencies, which could be consolidated to save money.

With the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Schakowsky said that there is a “tsunami out there, women are furious” on the overturning of abortion rights, and said the Senate needs to approve an abortion-rights measure already okayed by the House.

Rice said “all of the pro-life people I know” favor some exceptions to allow abortion, although the person at the head of the Republican ticket, gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey, has taken a strong anti-abortion stance, oppoing exceptions even for rape and incest.

Both candidates did agree on something — the need to prohibit prescription drug advertising on television.

One thing agreed upon by poltical pundits and prognosticators is that Jan Schakowsky will continue in Congress.

The website fivethirtyeight.com gives the incumbent a 99% chance of winning.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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