You'd think local Democrats might be hard-pressed to recruit someone to take on Republican Congressman Peter Roskam, an incumbent with a $2 million war chest and a leadership position in the GOP-controlled House.
But a number of Democratic candidates are spoiling for a fight over the future of the revamped 6th Congressional District.
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Barrington Hills accountant Leslie Coolidge, Lake Zurich business owner Geoff Petzel, Barrington retired businesswoman Maureen Yates and University of Illinois at Chicago graduate student Tim Ritter of Cary are running in the March 20 Democratic primary.
Roskam, a Wheaton attorney, is the Republican chief deputy whip and was first elected to Congress in 2006.
With the congressional remap, the 6th District has morphed from a relatively contiguous block based mainly in DuPage County into a sprawling creature that reaches into DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Cook counties.
Shifting the district from the traditionally Republican bastion of DuPage means "the odds are favorable the Democrats can pick up a seat," Petzel says.
The 28-year-old decided to run after "a life-changing event" -- a serious heart attack in August. "When you're given a second chance you want to make things better for the world," Petzel said.
Yates, 76, decided to get involved in politics because "I can't sit quietly and watch what's going on in Congress," she said.
The ongoing gridlock "is an absolute disgrace," Yates said. "The president puts forth proposals for the good of the country and the (Republicans in) Congress fight him on anything and everything."
Coolidge, 52, is a certified public account and retired partner in KPMG. This summer's crisis over raising the debt ceiling that caused fears of default galvanized her to run for election.
"It seemed Congress was so off-course," said Coolidge.
"The underlying basis of our profession is to understand the facts of a situation and develop a solution. You need someone who has the background and skills to understand the numbers behind Social Security or what's happening with Medicare and analyze the situation."
Ritter, 26, says tax reform is his top priority. "It can create new revenue for the government, give people more money to spend in the economy, and allow business to be more competitive with global competition," he said.
Yates said her focus, if elected, will be extracting the country from foreign wars.
"We should get all of the nonmilitary personnel out of Iraq and Afghanistan," Yates said. "I think President Obama's timetable is too long -- they don't really want us there -- they've made it obvious by blowing people up."
Petzel said health care is his priority but it's intertwined with improving the economy. He supports a single-payer health care system.
"I support the intention of (President Obama's) plan but we need to do a more aggressive health care plan to cover all Americans. The problem with the (Obama plan) is that it significantly increases the cost for the states," Petzel said.
Coolidge's No. 1 issue is job creation. She recently volunteered at a church and met with some homeless people who had lost their jobs and found it hard to re-enter the workforce.
"We need to get the economy moving," she said. "We need creative solutions."
Jump-starting the economy will require a focus on repairing existing infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and investing in clean-energy projects, Coolidge said.
According to recently filed election finance reports, Roskam leads the pack with about $1.9 million as of Dec. 31.
Coolidge finished the year with $26,800 cash in hand and Petzel reported about $3,300. Both said those filings reflected preliminary fundraising results.
Neither Yates nor Ritter had filed financial reports. The deadline was midnight Tuesday.