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updated: 2/2/2012 6:02 PM

Biggert, Foster money leaders in 11th Congressional District

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  • Bill Foster

    Bill Foster

  • Judy Biggert

    Judy Biggert

  • Juan Thomas

    Juan Thomas

  • Jim Hickey

    Jim Hickey


Congresswoman Judy Biggert learned Thursday she's the lone Republican running in the 11th Congressional District and, given campaign finance reports, that may have been the case all along.

She'll face a stiffer challenge in November when her Democratic opponent will almost surely have shown better fundraising acumen than her one-time GOP opponents.

Biggert was the only one of three Republicans to report any money raised or spent in the most recent filing period. Both Jack Cunningham and Diane Harris -- who were booted from the ballot because of flawed nominating petitions -- had not reported any contributions.

Biggert, of Hinsdale, heads to November with the overall fundraising lead in the race. Filings show Biggert has a war chest of $1,058,123 moving forward. That compares to $750,698 for Democrat Bill Foster, who is the former congressman in the 14th District. Democrat Juan Thomas has $37,371. Foster, of Naperville, and Thomas, of Aurora, have to get through a primary battle with fellow Democrat Jim Hickey, of Orland Park, to square off against Biggert in November. Hickey has not reported any money raised or spent so far.

Filings indicate Foster is also gaining ground in the money race with Biggert. Foster's report marked the third straight quarter that he's outpaced Biggert in raising money. Foster outraised Biggert by about $20,000 this quarter. He may be able to close the gap if he continues to get monetary support from the party and is as willing to open his own wallet as he's been in the past.

Foster accumulated $18,500 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to his filing. Other top donors include $10,000 contributions from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the New Democrat Coalition PAC and AMERIPAC.

"Together we are building a strong grass-roots campaign that focuses on what people are asking from Washington: Good jobs and a strong economy and a future for our families," Foster said. "I'm honored to have the support of Illinois' middle-class families so we can take on the out of touch Wall Street-Washington agenda that's been a problem for too long."

Both Foster and Biggert are carrying notable campaign debt that also indirectly speaks to the sizes of their personal fortunes.

Foster has more than $1 million of campaign debt. It's all money he owes himself from loans he gave his campaign in his previous races.

Biggert also carries campaign debt totaling nearly $300,000. That debt also stems from loans Biggert has given to her campaigns from her own fortune. Top donors to Biggert's campaign this cycle include $10,000 from Congressman Eric Cantor's Every Republican is Crucial PAC. Biggert also received $10,000 contributions from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the American Bankers Association PAC.

Of note is the amount of out-of-state money flowing to all the candidates in the race. Counting each individual contribution, including contributions from PACs based out of state, both Foster and Thomas tallied more than 50 percent of their donations from outside the state in the most recent filing period. Biggert had about 37 percent of her individual contributions come from outside of Illinois.

Biggert spokesman Brian Colgan said the amount of non-PAC money Foster is taking from people who live out of state draws into question the "grass-roots" image Foster has painted of his campaign. Colgan said voters will reject both that and Foster again come November.

"Area residents just want to get back to work," Colgan said. "They want a brighter future for their kids -- not more taxes, debt and big government spending. That is why they rejected Bill Foster and Nancy Pelosi in 2010, and that's why they'll do so again this November."

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