Republican Larry Kaifesh of Carpentersville, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, announced today he'll enter the GOP primary race to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates.
Kaifesh's move makes him the second Republican in the primary contest with Manju Goel of Aurora. Kaifesh sought to emphasize his suburban roots as an Elgin native and graduate of Dundee-Crown High School in addition to his military career, which included five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
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"Our nation is at a critical juncture in its history," Kaifesh said in a statement. "Every day we see how there is a dire need for new leadership and new thinking in Washington."
Kaifesh has won a bronze star and most recently served as a battle captain for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His work at the Pentagon ended Sept. 30 and he moved back to Carpentersville to start his campaign for Congress.
Goel announced her candidacy in September, touting the backing of Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas and Carol Stream Indian-American businessman Shalli Kumar.
Kaifesh's entrance could spark a spirited primary campaign in a district where Republicans didn't have any announced candidate until recently, later than in other suburban districts. The primary election is March 18.
Duckworth is a freshman lawmaker who won the new 8th Congressional District in 2012 at least in part on the strength of her own military background as a former Army National Guard helicopter pilot who lost her legs after being shot down in Iraq.
The 8th Congressional District includes parts of northwest Cook, central DuPage and eastern Kane counties.