Big difference in campaign funds for Schakowsky, Lasonde

Democrat U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky has collected seven times more campaign contributions than her 9th Congressional District opponent, Republican Joan McCarthy Lasonde, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The FEC report shows that, in the past two years, Schakowsky, an Evanston resident who's represented the 9th Congressional District in Congress for 17 years, collected $1.3 million in campaign contributions. Lasonde, a Wilmette resident who's making her first run for elected office, collected about $176,000.

In both cases, most of the donations came from individuals. The report shows that Lasonde had 13 people donate $2,000 or more, including three members of the Ricketts family. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts wasn't among them, but his brothers Todd, Tom and John Peter Ricketts, the governor of Nebraska, each donated $2,700.

Schakowsky had 92 people donate $2,000 or more to her campaign, most of whom were attorneys, consultants and retirees. Hyde Park Herald publisher Bruce Sagan and NewsWeb Corp. President Fred Eychaner each donated $2,700, according to the report.

Lasonde said it's almost impossible to compete with a candidate who has that amount of money in her campaign war chest.

"It's a total unfair disadvantage to someone who's not a career politician, who's trying to run against an incumbent. That's why people choose not to run for office. It is David and Goliath," Lasonde said. "It's definitely an uphill battle."

Schakowsky might be able to outspend Lasonde, but she hasn't been using her money for things like TV or radio ads. She also hasn't done any mass mailings during this campaign to voters in the 9th Congressional District, which includes parts of Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and Prospect Heights.

"We run a grass-roots, people-powered campaign," said Schakowsky's political director, Ben Head. "For us, it's about mobilizing grass-roots volunteers and everyday people who want to make a difference in their communities."

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