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Will a low-key Joe Walsh show up to debate Tammy Duckworth tonight?

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and Tammy Duckworth will go head-to-head tonight as the weeks close in on one of the most contentious races in the state — if not the nation.

Walsh, a Tea Party Republican, and Duckworth, a Democrat, will debate beginning at 7 p.m. at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows. Paul Green of Roosevelt University will moderate.

Of the six most contested congressional races in Illinois, the 8th is the most likely to draw interest because of Walsh’s unpredictability and as voters are still trying to feel out Duckworth. The flame-throwing Walsh has implored Sandra Fluke to “go get a job” and has called into question the hero status of his double amputee opponent, who was maimed on a mission in Iraq. However, Walsh has toned it down lately, taking on a more reasoned approach in recent interviews and appearances.

Democrats had written off Walsh in the 8th congressional race but it could be tighter than they believe. Walsh was recently the beneficiary of a huge media buy from a SuperPAC that poured more than $1.4 million into anti-Duckworth ads.

Roll Call has reported that a poll taken in mid-August by the Tarrance Group showed Walsh and Duckworth in a statistical tie. A We Ask America poll had Walsh at a five-point lead. Democrats have reported far wider margins, including releasing numbers Monday that Duckworth was 10 points ahead and an earlier poll that said she held a 14-point lead.