Democratic challenger outraised Rep. Foster in third quarter - but can he win?
A Naperville human rights lawyer who's challenging U.S. Rep. Bill Foster in the 2024 Democratic primary for Illinois' 11th Congressional District seat narrowly outraised the veteran lawmaker last quarter, federal records show.
Qasim Rashid, who twice ran for political office while living in Virginia a few years ago, reported receiving about $305,571 in total campaign receipts between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to a quarterly report filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.
Foster reported about $300,887 in total receipts for the same quarter. The congressman's campaign had much more money saved than his rival's at the end of the period, however, thanks to years of fundraising.
The difference between the two candidates' third-quarter hauls doesn't look significant until it's broken down by source.
About one-third of the donations Foster's campaign received in the period came from financial companies and other special interest groups, documents show. Foster serves on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the securities, insurance, banking and housing industries.
Rashid has pledged not to accept cash from political action committees and reported donations only from individuals, including himself.
In a news release, Rashid urged Foster to "focus on the voices of his actual constituents, not the corporate interests that seek to drown them out."
When asked to respond, a Foster campaign spokesman said the congressman is proud of his work on the financial committee, particularly the 2010 creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other efforts to hold financial institutions accountable.
Third-quarter financial reports were due to the FEC by Oct. 15. View them at fec.gov.
Foster is the only congressional representative serving the North, West or Northwest suburbs who, as of Sept. 30, is facing a primary challenger who's reported receiving donations in the six-figure range.
A 68-year-old physicist and former entrepreneur, Foster has represented the 11th District since 2013. He previously represented the 14th District for about three years.
Foster's campaign committee started July with more than $1.1 million in the bank.
He subsequently collected $193,053 from individuals and $101,000 from political action committees.
Foster reported receiving $60,000 from PACs representing companies and groups in financial industries. Such donations included $2,500 from the American Bankers Association, $1,000 from State Farm, $2,000 from Allstate and $2,500 from Bank of America.
Corporate donations from other industries included $1,000 from Exelon Corp., $1,000 from Kraft Heinz Co. and $2,500 from pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.
After spending nearly $113,543 in the quarter on operating expenses and a few donations to other political groups, Team Foster finished September with more than $1.3 million saved and $1 million in debts, all to the candidate.
Born in Pakistan, the 41-year-old Rashid spent much of his childhood in suburban Chicago. He moved to Virginia for law school and remained until relocating to Naperville in 2022 to be closer to his family, a campaign spokesman said.
While in Virginia, Rashid ran for a state Senate seat in 2019 and for a congressional seat in 2020. He won both Democratic primaries but lost the general elections to Republicans.
"Ultimately, whoever funds your campaign is who you're accountable to," Rashid, who also is an author and has a weekly satellite radio show, said in a news release. "With our 100% people-funded campaign, we are upholding our campaign's founding promise of remaining exclusively accountable to the people."
After spending nearly $191,433, Team Rashid finished September with $114,138 saved and no debts.
While Rashid has touted his refusal to accept special-interest donations as a philosophical strength, one Illinois political expert said the approach won't be successful if he can't raise enough money to get his message to voters.
"If no one knows you are running, it does not matter how good your message is or how effective a candidate you might be," said Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Foster's war chest was more than 11 times the size of his challenger's as of Oct. 1, which puts the congressman at an advantage, Redfield said.
So does Foster's proven ability to rake in millions for ads, staff and other campaign expenses, Redfield said.
With the primary set for March 19, Rashid doesn't have a lot of time to raise the money needed to establish name recognition in the district and build a strong funding base.
"The math and timing of the situation work against Rashid," Redfield said.
Four Republican hopefuls in the 11th District filed campaign finance reports for the third quarter, too, but none approached the Democrats' fundraising totals.
Only Warrenville's Jerry Evans reported a revenue total above six figures. He collected nearly $102,128 and spent $2,410 in the quarter, finishing September with $99,717 in the bank.
Dr. Kent Mercado of Naperville reported receiving $14,905 in donations and spending $12,466. His campaign started the period with $13,407 and finished with less than $15,846.
Susan Hathaway-Altman of Geneva reported $1,876 in donations during the quarter and no spending. Her campaign started the quarter with $44 saved and finished with $1,920 in the bank.
Finally, Krishna Bansal of Naperville reported no financial activity during the quarter and a campaign account containing more than $22,609.
The 11th District encompasses portions of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Boone counties.