How candidates aligned with Donald Trump did in the suburbs

Although all three downstate Illinois Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump won their primary races Tuesday, outspoken Trump supporters seeking nomination for statewide or federal seats saw mixed results in the suburbs.

Such candidates were defeated in the 6th, 8th and 14th congressional districts' GOP primaries, as well as in the U.S. Senate race. But they won nominations in the 5th and 11th districts.

Trump didn't endorse any suburban candidates in Tuesday's primary. Lake County Republican leader Mark Shaw said he doubts a Trump-approved stamp would have helped. Voters in northern Illinois are less conservative than those in the central or southern parts of the state, Shaw noted - and their opinions of the former president aren't as positive.

"The president doesn't do as well in northern Illinois," Shaw said.

Who backed Trump?

Trump endorsed Darren Bailey of Xenia in the gubernatorial primary, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland in the 15th Congressional District race and U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood of Dunlap in the 16th. There was no shortage of Trump supporters on suburban ballots, however.

Some aligned themselves with the former president merely by criticizing the 2020 election results or understating the severity of last year's incursion at the U.S. Capitol.

Others visited Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida during the campaign. They included Bailey; 11th Congressional District hopeful Mark Carroll of North Aurora, who placed third out of six candidates Tuesday; and 14th District candidate James Marter of Oswego, who finished second in his race.

Both Marter and fellow 14th District candidate Jack Lombardi of Manhattan alleged fraud in the 2020 presidential race despite no evidence of widespread chicanery. Lombardi finished fourth Tuesday.

The GOP nominee in the 14th, Oswego's Scott Gryder, avoided that pro-Trump conspiracy. He'll face two-term Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood of Naperville in November.

In the 8th District GOP primary, Chad Koppie of Gilberts and Karen Kolodziej of Itasca finished far behind nominee Chris Dargis of Palatine. Dargis will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg in the general.

Kaspar's efforts

And then there's 6th Congressional District hopeful Scott Kaspar, who secured the backing of Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Bernard Kerik.

Kaspar, a lawyer from Orland Park, frequently dropped by Mar-a-Lago Club and other Trump properties for political gatherings, too.

But those maneuvers didn't pay off. Kaspar placed fifth out of six candidates.

The winner in the 6th District GOP primary was Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, who didn't support election conspiracy theories and criticized the Capitol rioters. Pekau will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove in November.

The 6th includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties, as well as some Chicago precincts. Considering Trump lost suburban Cook County and DuPage County in both 2016 and 2020 by wide margins, being so pro-Trump likely wouldn't have helped Kaspar in a general election showdown, campaign expert Kent Redfield said.

"If you are running as a Republican in a suburban congressional district, you have to appeal to moderate and swing voters in the general election to win," said Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Lauf's connection

Catalina Lauf, the GOP nominee in the 11th District, briefly worked at the U.S. Commerce Department during the Trump administration and has touted her connection to the former president on social media.

Lauf's conservative views include opposing gun control and abortion. She will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville for the 11th District seat, which serves parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Boone counties.

Lauf's Trump ties and views could work against her in November, Redfield said.

"In general, being too closely tied to former President Trump, Stop the Steal or hard-right, socially conservative positions ... will hurt a Republican running in the general election in a suburban congressional district," he said.

Shaw had a similar opinion.

"I think Trump can be a positive for some candidates and not so positive for others," he said. "It depends where they're running."

What about Hanson?

Lauf wasn't the only Trump-aligned winner Tuesday.

So was the 5th District's Tommy Hanson. A Chicago real estate broker, he questioned the 2020 election results and alleged police at the U.S. Capitol during last year's riot "were coached" to make it look like the mob was assaulting the building.

No evidence of that exists.

Hanson will face veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago in the general. Quigley beat Hanson in 2018 and 2020 to continue serving the 5th, which includes parts of Cook and Lake counties.

The statewides

Bailey was the only statewide candidate Trump backed.

The Bailey ticket did very well in the suburbs, winning each of the collar counties by wide margins. Bailey will face incumbent Democrat J.B. Pritzker in November.

As for the Senate race, three election deniers were among the nominees: Bobby Piton of Geneva, who went as far as to say Joe Biden isn't actually president and called the Capitol riot a "false flag event"; Peggy Hubbard of Belleville, who reportedly was at the Capitol on Jan. 6; and Jimmy Lee Tillman II of Chicago.

But Trump didn't endorse anyone. The nomination went to Mundelein's Kathy Salvi, who crushed the field in the collar counties. She will face Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates in November.

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Catalina Lauf
Tommy Hanson
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