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updated: 11/29/2011 5:16 AM

Joe Walsh may run in newly drawn district without incumbent

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  • Congressman Joe Walsh may be considering running in the 8th District, not the 14th, in the March primary.

       Congressman Joe Walsh may be considering running in the 8th District, not the 14th, in the March primary.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

Eighth District Congressman Joe Walsh took part in a meeting Monday to formally discuss switching congressional districts to avoid a nasty primary battle with fellow GOP freshman Randy Hultgren.

Instead of running in the newly drawn 14th Congressional District, which contains near equal portions of Kane and McHenry counties, Walsh may run in the 8th Congressional District, a Cook and DuPage County district roughly centered in Schaumburg and without an incumbent.

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"I did meet with him," Darlene Ruscitti, the DuPage County regional superintendent of education who has announced plans to run in the 8th District GOP primary, said Monday evening.

But she deferred all other questions to Walsh, saying, "I would just talk to Joe."

Neither Walsh nor his spokesman, Justin Roth, returned calls seeking comment.

"What happened is he called her for the meeting," a senior Republican operative told the Daily Herald Monday. "He sat down and said, 'I'm running in the 8th (Congressional District).'"

By making a switch, Walsh -- a McHenry Tea Partyer facing allegations of $117,437 in late child support payments -- could avoid a primary showdown and also channel GOP money and support toward his bid for election, instead of against it.

Walsh's original decision to run in the 14th -- where his McHenry home is -- meant both he and Hultgren, of Winfield, would be forced to raise and spend big money early on that could otherwise have been diverted to the general election.

Hultgren, a longtime state lawmaker, may not have the national name recognition of Walsh but is, to some, a safer pick over the silvery-haired firecracker who has catapulted onto the national stage with his controversial politics and family issues.

The new 14th District, created by Democratic mapmakers in the Illinois legislature and approved by Gov. Pat Quinn this summer, primarily contains portions of Kane and McHenry counties, but also includes parts of Kendall, Will and DeKalb counties. A federal lawsuit challenging the map's validity is pending.

If it stands, no matter which man wins the GOP primary, Democrats are essentially handed a victory, of sorts, with one of the Republican freshmen knocked from his post even before the general election takes place.

Yet Illinois GOP spokesman Jon Blessing said the situation is far from ideal in the 8th District, which includes parts of Elk Grove Village, Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, Addison and Arlington Heights. With other Republicans, including both Ruscitti and Barrington businessman Andrew Palomo, now making primary bids,

"with the remap, we're put in the unfortunate situation of red on red regardless," Blessing said.

Hoffman Estates Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Raja Krishnamoorthi will face off in the Democratic primary.

Shortly after the news hit the Web Monday evening, Duckworth sent out an email to supporters asking for fundraising help.

"Donate $10 to Tammy to show Joe Walsh we don't want him here either," it read.

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