Dennis Anderson failed in his last bid to unseat Republican Randy Hultgren from the 14th Congressional District. The key to success, then, is what Anderson will change in his approach these next six months to earn a victory in November. That change will start May 22 when Anderson hosts the first of up to 25 town-hall meetings with voters designed, in part, to pull Hultgren into public debate.
"I would like to see him come out," said Anderson, who lives in Gurnee. "I would like to engage with him at joint forums, but the ball for that is in his court."
The town halls will be a combination of meet-and-greet sessions and question and answer forums with voters. Anderson and his team are shooting for three town halls in each of the seven counties that comprise the district. Anderson said voters who attend the forums will see he has moderate views that can appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.
"I don't think it's a matter of portraying myself as the moderate candidate; I think it's a matter of fact," Anderson said. "I've got a mainstream message. I consider Mr. Hultgren to be part of the radical right."
Hultgren, of Winfield, has not announced a schedule of public appearances for the campaign. His campaign website features material from October 2013. A spokesman for the campaign did not immediately reply to a request for an updated schedule. Hultgren's district staff will tour the district for the next couple weeks in a series of constituent meetings. The first chance to interact with Hultgren's staff is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Marengo City Hall, 132 E. Prairie St.
Hultgren made headlines recently for formulating a heroin community action plan he said he believes can be used to address prescription drug and heroin abuse across the country. That plan now awaits further action from the House's Energy and Commerce Committee.
Hultgren recently voted in favor of creating a 12-member panel to further investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.