Illinois 14: State Senator May Enter GOP Primary Against Hastert
September 9, 2009 · 8:59 AM EDT
It appears that attorney Ethan Hastert (R) may not have a clear path in his effort to take back his father’s former Congressional seat as state Sen. Randy Hultgren (R) is actively exploring Illinois’ 14th district race, according to local GOP sources.
Republicans are targeting Rep. Bill Foster (D), who won the seat in a spring 2008 special election after former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), Ethan’s father, resigned. A personal and bitter GOP primary, coupled with President George W. Bush’s declining job approval ratings, contributed to Foster’s victory.
Republicans are hoping to avoid a replay of last year, but it’s unclear how the GOP primary will play out.
It looked like Hastert, who has been building his campaign for months and raising money, was going to avoid a serious threat, especially since Republicans in Illinois expect state Sen. Chris Lauzen (R) to run for re-election. Lauzen narrowly lost to wealthy dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, who was endorsed by Dennis Hastert in the 2008 primary, and the feud between Lauzen and the former Speaker is widely known.
Lauzen represents a large chunk of the 14th district and may encourage his supporters to support Hultgren over another Hastert. Hultgren’s legislative district is split between the 14th and the 6th district, which is represented by Rep. Peter Roskam (R). Hultgren was elected to replace Roskam in the state Senate in 2006.
Hultgren hasn’t made a final decision, but according to Illinois sources, he’s talking to a number of experienced local operatives. He may not represent a large share of Republican primary voters, but if he can tap into Lauzen’s support and into people who weren’t happy the way Speaker Hastert left office and gave Democrats an opportunity, the primary could develop into a serious contest.
Former Defense Department civilian employee Mark Vargas, property maintenance manager Jeff Danklefsen and former Aurora Councilman Bill Cross are also interested in running. Vargas had been exploring a bid against Rep. Melissa Bean (D) in the 8th district. Former state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger (R) is expected to run for his former seat instead of running for Congress.
Because of the Feb. 2 primary, candidates are already circulating petitions in advance of the November filing deadline.
This story first appeared on RollCall.com on September 8, 2009. Here is a little more information from the September 10 issue of Roll Call:
It appears that attorney Ethan Hastert (R) may not have a clear path in his effort to take back his father’s former Congressional seat. State Sen. Randy Hultgren (R) is close to jumping into the 14th district race, according to local GOP sources.
“We hope to make a decision very soon,” Hultgren told Roll Call. The state Senator is talking to a number of experienced local operatives and fundraisers and is expected to announce his decision within the next week.
Ethan Hastert is a first-time candidate, but he’s been building his campaign for months and raising money. Hultgren has run for office numerous times before but never anything close to a competitive Congressional race. He was elected to the DuPage County Board and later elected to the state Legislature.
When Rep. Peter Roskam (R) ran for Congress in 2006, Hultgren ran for his open state Senate seat and faced a competitive primary until his opponent allegedly shoved a police officer during a New Year’s Day parade. Hultgren will also have to upgrade his fundraising, according to a GOP source in Illinois.
Republicans are hoping to avoid a replay of last year when a bitter primary helped Rep. Bill Foster (D) win the open seat in a special election after former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) resigned.
State Sen. Chris Lauzen, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 2008, was initially mentioned as a potential 2010 candidate, but he’s expected to seek re-election. Hultgren is in midterm so he would not have to give up his Senate seat in order to run for Congress in 2010.
The feud between Lauzen and the former Speaker is widely known, but it’s unclear how hard Lauzen would work for Hultgren because, although they are ideologically similar, Lauzen has future interest in the Congressional seat, according to local GOP sources.
Since Hultgren represents only about 10 percent of the 14th district and his Wheaton base is outside of it, he’ll need to tap into Lauzen’s grass-roots network. Hultgren’s legislative district includes parts of the 14th, Roskam’s 6th district and Republican Rep. Judy Biggert’s 13th district.
Hultgren could also get support from people who weren’t happy with the way Speaker Hastert left office and gave Democrats an opportunity.