Conservative talk show host and former Republican candidate for governor Dan Proft says he's getting involved in at least two of the suburbs' biggest GOP primary races for Illinois House.
Proft has more than $1.5 million in his Liberty Principles political committee, some of which he says he plans to use for mail, phone calls and social media to support several candidates in DuPage County in advance of the March 18 primary. The infusion of more money into contested primary races is intended to raise the candidates' profiles in voters' minds while much of the Republican primary focus has been on the four-way governor's race.
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This week, Proft spent about $7.500 in support of state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican who is opposed in the primary by Adam Johnson of Warrenville.
Campaign records show Proft also has spent nearly $7,000 to help Peter Breen of Lombard, a lawyer for the Thomas More Society, which opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Breen is taking on state Rep. Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn in the Republican primary.
By law, the mailings have to be planned for and sent independent from the candidates they support.
"We're going to support candidates that support the economic liberty agenda," Proft said.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, a Western Springs Republican, said he'll be sticking up for all his incumbent members.
"I am supporting and the House Republican Organization is supporting all incumbents during the primary," Durkin said.
Proft wouldn't say specifically which other primary election candidates in the suburbs might get his backing, but called the Republican primary race between state Rep. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove and challenger Keith Matune "important."
Matune, also of Downers Grove, has criticized Sandack for changing his position on same-sex marriage and voting for it.
"All three of those races are important races," Proft said.
As of the start of the year, Durkin had about $443,000 in the campaign account used to both back incumbents in primaries and take on Democrats in the general election.
Proft's committee, meanwhile, reported a single $1.5 million contribution from Lake Forest businessman Richard Uihlein Jan. 9, an amount that could make Proft a serious player both before the primary and in the run-up to the November election.
Pihos said she found it puzzling that Proft, who has ties to the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, would work against her when the Institute worked hard against a proposal that cut pension benefits and she voted against it.
"Obviously, we were aligned on that bill," she said.