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Article updated: 10/10/2013 2:00 PM

Republican congressional candidate voted in Democratic primaries

By Mike Riopell

Republican candidate for Congress Manju Goel of Aurora, the first GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth to emerge publicly, voted in Democratic primaries in 2008 and 2012, election officials confirmed.

The votes are likely to trouble some Republicans looking for a candidate with party bona fides. But in a statement, Goel's campaign said she immigrated to the U.S. and was inspired by former President Ronald Reagan.

"Like many voters and President Reagan, she wasn't always a Republican ... but particularly on the issues of health care, debts, deficits, fiscal discipline, personal responsibility and on America's stance on the war on terror, Democrats have moved consistently too far to the left," the statement says.

The votes were first reported by conservative blog Illinois Review. In Illinois, what party's primary ballot a person pulls is public record.

Goel announced her candidacy last month in Elk Grove Village flanked by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas. a former chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, and Shalli Kumar, an Indian-American businessman from Carol Stream. The political action committee run by Kumar ran ads last year criticizing Duckworth in her race against Republican Joe Walsh of McHenry.

Goel's campaign says she has voted for more Republicans than Democrats but wanted to back Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora in the 2012 primary. Kifowit won her bid for Illinois House last year. Goel's statement calls Kifowit "a fiscally conservative, lower taxes, pro-business and pro-jobs Democrat."

Cook County Republican Chairman Aaron Del Mar said the process of finding candidates for the 8th Congressional District continues.

"There are several other people who have shown interest in that election," he said.

Del Mar said he's met with Goel once and found her to be intelligent and outgoing. He said her voting record will be one factor that's weighed when the party decides who to back in a primary.

"It's a little bit concerning," Del Mar said.

The 8th Congressional District includes parts of Cook, Kane and DuPage Counties.

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