With Larry Kaifesh's nomination Tuesday as the Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth in the 8th Congressional District, a major question now is how much support he can expect from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
As a Tea Party challenger of Democrat Melissa Bean in 2010, Joe Walsh was largely left to fend for himself by the committee, an organization that provides financial and technical support to GOP House candidates. But the national organization came to his aid two years later when he was challenged by Duckworth.
What can Kaifesh expect in his bid to return the seat to Republican control? While no decision has been announced by the NRCC, Kaifesh campaign spokesman Steve Rossi is optimistic the committee will recognize the significance of the November race.
"I think this is going to become a national race very quickly," Rossi said.
Kaifesh said his contact with the NRCC has been encouraging and supportive, but without any commitment of financial assistance. But then, he never entered the race with any assumption of help, he added.
Nevertheless, Kaifesh believes Duckworth's name recognition and far-flung sources of financial support will make their race an obviously national one, even to the casual observer. While still focused on identifying sources of support within the district, Kaifesh acknowledges that outside help from the NRCC would help counterbalance Duckworth's head start.
At the end of February, Duckworth's campaign fund had $911,613 on hand while Kaifesh's had $28,961, according to federal campaign filings. Paul Green, director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University, believes that whatever interest the NRCC takes in the 8th District will be secondary to the rematch in the 10th District between Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider and former Republican Congressman Bob Dold. Schneider beat Dold in the North suburban district two years ago.
That hotly contested race, in a more widely perceived swing district, is more likely to draw the majority of the NRCC's local resources, Green said.
In looking back at Walsh's two very different experiences with the NRCC, Green said Walsh's Tea Party roots made him far from the typical candidate favored by the organization. But in 2012, the committee probably was persuaded to demonstrate solidarity throughout the region and protect the seats Republicans already held.
NRCC representatives did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.
The 8th Congressional District includes portions of northwest Cook, eastern Kane and central DuPage counties.