SPRINGFIELD -- Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Jacob Meister criticized his opponents Thursday for being political insiders.

Meister is one of six Democrats seeking the Senate seat, and he aimed at some of the perceived front-runners in his comments during a visit to the Statehouse Thursday.

Meister called state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias a "career politician" and made note of Cheryle Jackson's work as a one-time spokeswoman for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"Cheryle Jackson comes right out of the inner sanctum of the Blagojevich administration," Meister said.

His opponents shot back.

"Desperate candidates say desperate things and unfortunately resort to negative attacks," said Giannoulias spokeswoman Kati Phillips.

Jackson spokesman Bob Kettlewell said Jackson left Blagojevich's office in his first term and has since worked as head of the Chicago Urban League.

"That's the most important thing, I think, to remember," Kettlewell said.

But after criticizing his opponents on ethical grounds, Meister said the campaign should focus instead on issues, namely the economy.

"The race is not about, you know, who is the most ethical," he said. "We have to start with the presumption that our elected officials have to be ethical, now let's get to ideas."

Meister criticized former Chicago inspector general David Hoffman for trying to make the race about ethics.

"Hoffman is playing the slick game of trying to make this election about corruption and his plan for fighting corruption," Meister said.

Hoffman's camp disagreed.

"If we are ever going to move beyond the corruption problems that have plagued our state for too long, including efforts by our last governor to sell this very senate seat, we need to choose a candidate who is both A-plus on ethics and has the experience to be effective in the senate," said Hoffman spokesman Thom Karmik.

Meister was in Springfield Thursday to release a plan intended to generate more manufacturing jobs, including in environmentally friendly industries.

A full copy of the report can be found at www.meisterforsenate.com.

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