The Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate largely avoided attacking one another in their first joint appearance of the primary race.


The three candidates, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, State Sen. Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) and former Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp, met Monday before the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune.


Duckworth avoided mentioning her opponents by name or attacking their policies, focusing her criticisms on incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and his positions on national security issues.


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"It matters who you send to Washington, it really matters, we've seen this in Mark Kirk who's really pursued quite a few wrong policies that put our nation in danger," Duckworth said, specifically mentioning his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal or his call for a halt to accepting Syrian refugees.


Zopp and Harris avoided any attacks until near the end of the endorsement session, when Zopp said the other two hadn't been active enough in calling for changes to policing after footage was released showing Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by the Chicago Police Department.


"I've been outspoken on the issue, called early on for the Department of Justice to come in and investigate the Chicago Police Department," Zopp said.


Harris took exception to Zopp's criticisms and said he has tried to advance criminal justice measures in the General Assembly.


"Sounds like you should've run for state's attorney. You're running in the wrong race," Harris said.


The candidates will meet in a similar endorsement session for the Chicago Sun-Times on Feb. 16. Their final joint appearance ahead of the primary election will be a televised debate hosted by League of Women Voters Illinois on Feb. 19.


(Copyright WBGZ / )