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posted: 7/17/2010 12:01 AM

Suburban congressional incumbents show big fund gains

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Incumbents in suburban congressional races spent the early summer months adding to their war chests, continuing to pull ahead of their respective challengers in raising funds for the November election.

Second-quarter campaign finance reports were due to the Federal Election Commission at midnight Thursday.

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In the 14th District, the race between freshman Democrat Bill Foster of Batavia and his Republican challenger, State Sen. Randy Hultgren of Winfield Township, is expected to be one of the most closely watched in the nation. Foster won the far West suburban district after Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert's retirement. Hultgren entered the race late but recently gained status as a "Young Gun" in the Republican Party.

In the second quarter, Hultgren kept building financial momentum, but incumbent Foster continued to stretch his fundraising lead.

Hultgren raised about $309,000 in the last quarter. That marks his best quarter to date, but it still lagged behind Foster's $461,000.

Foster now has nearly $1.6 million in cash on hand compared to only $245,000 for Hultgren.

In the 8th Congressional District, covering northwest Cook, eastern Lake and northeastern McHenry Counties, Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean raised about three times as much as her Republican challenger Joe Walsh during the second quarter, while her total funds raised during this election cycle are more than 51/2 times what he raised. Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer of Lindenhurst did not file a quarterly FEC report and hasn't filed one since a previous 2007 campaign. Only candidates who raised or spent more than $5,000 during a quarter are required to file a report with the FEC.

Bean, of Barrington, received $300,351 in contributions during the second quarter, bringing her total to $1.6 million during the current campaign.

Walsh, of McHenry, took in $100,831 during the second quarter, for a campaign total of $283,148.

Bean drew support from a number of corporations and political action committees while Walsh's funds come almost entirely from individuals.

In the 16th District, covering southeastern McHenry County, incumbent Congressman Don Manzullo, a Republican from Egan, raised more than 14 times as much money as his Democratic opponent through June 30, campaign finance records show.

Manzullo raised $160,546 in the second quarter, nearly double the amount he took in during the period stretching from January through the end of March.

At the end of the second quarter, Manzullo's campaign had spent $484,614 and had $429,324 on hand.

In contrast, Manzullo's Democratic opponent, Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp, had raised $27,421 during the second quarter, for a total of $43,000 so far this year. A majority of Gaulrapp's contributions came from individuals. His campaign had spent $38,364 and had $5,302 on hand at the end of the second quarter.

Manzullo's spokesman said despite the fundraising advantage, the congressman is taking the challenge seriously. 16th District Green Party candidate Terry Campbell did not file a second-quarter report. In the 13th District, Republican incumbent Judy Biggert of Hinsdale and Democrat Scott Harper of Lockport face each other for the second election in a row. Harper caught Biggert off guard in 2008 with strong fundraising right off the bat, but not this time.

Biggert took in $264,023 this quarter, nearly $100,000 more than during the January-March period.

Her campaign now has nearly $870,000 in cash on hand.

Harper brought in $143,254 in contributions, bringing his campaign cash balance to $198,404.

Next door in the 6th District, incumbent Peter Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, raised $385,842 - a total of $1.7 million for the campaign to date.

While Roskam has close to $1 million in cash on hand, his opponent, Benjamin Lowe, a Wheaton Democrat, has less than $2,500. Lowe brought in $13,000 this quarter.

Roskam's campaign declined to comment Friday.

Both Republican and Democratic hopefuls vying for the 9th District seat fared much better with their fundraising efforts in the second quarter.

Republican Joel Pollak, a human rights lawyer from Skokie, raised $131,209 over that period, more than double his collections in the first quarter - $55,383.

Incumbent Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat, collected $263,925 during the second quarter, up from the $126,328 she raised in the first quarter. Schakowsky has $535,579 cash on hand to Pollak's $50,304.

Pollak said Friday his donations have largely come from small business owners and the pro-Israel community. He used a good chunk of that money to open a volunteer office in Niles, hire campaign staff, and on web advertising.

Schakowsky said while she has the incumbent advantage, she's doesn't take any campaigns for granted. She added, Pollak "has shown a capacity to raise significant dollars."

"This is a very challenging election season for incumbents," the veteran lawmaker said. "There is no question about it that people are feeling nervous about their economic situation. (Candidates) can fool themselves even about name recognition and what people's perception is. I view this as a serious race. I'm taking it seriously and I'm going to compete vigorously."

Schakowsky said she proposes to use the funds mainly for mailers, television ads and yard signs, as well as hiring field staff.

Green Party candidate Simon Ribeiro, of Evanston, said he did not file a campaign finance report, but raised about $100 mostly through online contributions.

• Daily Herald staff writers Jim Fuller, Jake Griffin, Madhu Krishnamurthy and Eric Peterson contributed to this report.

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