Congressman Randy Hultgren may ride a campaign bus with a candidate, walk a precinct with a candidate and shake hands while campaigning with that candidate, but that doesn't mean Hultgren supports that candidate.
"Congressman Hultgren has endorsed only one candidate for Kane County Board chair, Senator Chris Lauzen," said a written statement from Hultgren spokesman Gill Stevens Tuesday.
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Except Lauzen's opponent, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, had just spent time knocking on doors with the congressman and a group of other Republican candidates.
Lauzen released word of Hultgren's endorsement late Saturday. When the endorsement came out, Burns found himself surprised but not disappointed. Burns campaigned with Hultgren days before Hultgren appeared at a Lauzen function to endorse Lauzen.
Indeed, after that campaign tour, Burns' campaign released a statement saying Hultgren repeatedly praised Burns as the "right man for the job" and the "best candidate for this important office."
In trade, Burns fully endorsed Hultgren.
"Randy is a man of integrity, a man of his word," Burns said. "The voters can trust that once he says something or makes a promise, he'll stick with it."
Hultgren's staff would neither confirm nor deny that Hultgren ever called Burns the best man for the job. But while Burns doesn't expect Hultgren will join him for any more walking tours before the March primary, he's still standing behind his endorsement of Hultgren as the best man to represent the 14th Congressional District.
"I gave Randy my word. We shook hands, and I will continue to honor my pledge and commitment to Randy," Burns said. "I'll continue to actively support him as well."
Burns said he'd rather Hultgren remained neutral in the race. In fact, Burns said he never expected nor solicited an endorsement from Hultgren because he thought the congressman's neutrality would be a foregone conclusion.
He said the quality of Hultgren's endorsement of Lauzen can be judged from what the congressman said to Burns in a phone call before stepping onstage with Lauzen.
"Randy called me up before the endorsement and said, 'This sucks. I hate doing it. I owe Chris because he was there for me in 2010,' " Burns said. "So it is indeed flummoxing. Politics makes strange bedfellows. But I don't feel misled by Randy at all."
Hultgren's staff neither confirmed nor denied that Hultgren called Burns regarding the Lauzen endorsement or the accuracy of Burns' memory of what was said.