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updated: 5/31/2011 5:12 PM

Foster explains decision to run in 11th

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  • Bill Foster

    Bill Foster


Bill Foster said no one, fellow Democrats included, should be surprised he's opted to run for the new 11th Congressional District created by the statewide remapping process.

"I let everyone know I would be running in whatever district contained Aurora," Foster said in formally announcing his candidacy Tuesday. "It's the second-largest city in the state. It's the anchor city in both the old 14th and the new 11th. Aurora is an area that I have done very well in, including in the last election."

Not well enough, though, to stave off the national Republican wave that saw former State Sen. Randy Hultgren oust Foster from the 14th Congressional District after one and a half terms in office. Foster filled the remainder of former Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert's term after he left office early. Foster went on to win a full term before losing to Hultgren on his first bid for re-election last November.

Foster said he decided to run in the 11th rather than taking another shot at the 14th because he believes the base of the old 14th District is now in the 11th. At least, it's the part of the base that Foster believes identifies with him the most. In particular, Foster believes his scientific roots will appeal to residents in business corridor that spans through Naperville, Lisle and Downers Grove and the portions of the 11th that touch Fermilab and contains part of Argonne National Laboratory.

And having Democratic-heavy Joliet in the mix certainly won't hurt his chances. Foster said he believes Joliet residents have interests and concerns that mimic his old Aurora constituents.

"I'm actually relatively happy with the district," Foster said.

But there are several factors that will determine if Foster will be happy with the outcome of the future election. Foster said he neither consulted with, nor received the blessing, of the Democratic Party in making his decision. That could play heavily in Foster's fundraising efforts.

"They understand this is an individual decision," Foster said. "There are just a very large number of politicians jockeying for a spot right now. For me, it was a pretty straightforward decision."

So, Foster said, was his decision to not actually live in the 11th District while making his run. Law does not require members of Congress to live in the district they represent. Foster pointed to former Congressman Melissa Bean of the 8th District as a prime example of successfully not living in a district even while representing it.

Foster's Batavia condo is just a couple blocks outside the new 11th Congressional District.

"The idea of moving a couple blocks sort of seems a little bit unnecessary," Foster said. "We've actually, from time-to-time, talked about moving to Naperville or Aurora because that's where a lot of our friends from Fermi live. A preponderance of people from Fermi probably live in the new 11th. I just don't think this is a big deal."

Other potential candidates for the 11th Congressional District are Burr Ridge businessman John Atkinson, who already had begun raising money to run against Congressman Dan Lipinski. Republican Judy Biggert of the current 13th Congressional District is also a possible candidate. Despite speculation, the 73-year-old Biggert has said she will not retire.