Underwood outpacing GOP rivals in fundraising for 14th Congressional race
While Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville was sitting on a $1.6 million campaign war chest as 2024 began, neither of the Republican challengers for her 14th District seat has come close in terms of fundraising.
James Marter, an Oswego resident making his fifth bid for the U.S. House or Senate, had less than $37,000 saved for his March 19 primary showdown with Aurora’s Charlie Kim as of Dec. 31, according to his latest finance report for the Federal Election Commission.
Kim’s campaign had less than $60,000 in the bank as of the same date − and all of it came from the candidate as a loan. In a telephone interview, Kim acknowledged he didn’t start seeking donations from supporters until last month.
Year-end reports covering campaign fundraising and spending during the last quarter of 2023 were due to the Federal Election Commission by Jan. 31. They can be viewed at fec.gov.
Marter, an Oswego Public Library board member and the Kendall County Republican Party chair, unsuccessfully ran for the 16th District seat in 2018 and for the 14th District seat in 2020 and 2022. He also ran for U.S. Senate in 2016.
The Marter for Congress committee started October with about $30,919 in the bank.
It subsequently collected about $18,529, including nearly $17,211 from individuals and $1,175 from political action committees representing special interest groups.
Donors included: former state lawmaker and ex-gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, who gave $250; the campaign committee for 8th Congressional District candidate Mark Rice of Chicago, which gave $100; and a political action committee from north-central Illinois called YANA, which gave $1,000.
After spending more than $13,182 in the quarter, Team Marter finished the year with nearly $36,266 saved.
When asked about the campaign’s finances, Marter for Congress issued a statement that proclaimed Marter “(has) the upper hand in fundraising in this race.” It also criticized Kim for not doing any outside fundraising during the period.
“Mr. Marter believes the intelligent and hard working people of his district know the difference between lending yourself money and raising support from donors,” the statement read.
The statement didn’t address that Marter for Congress had more than $101,460 in debts as of Dec. 31, nearly all of which were to its candidate and which dated back to 2017. When asked about that total, campaign spokesman Paul Hurst denied the sum is a debt, even though it’s included under “debts and obligations owed by the committee” on Marter’s report.
Kim’s campaign started the fourth quarter with $649 in the bank. It subsequently collected about $67,000 in loans from the candidate during the period.
Kim, an entrepreneur making his first bid for elected office, lent the campaign $500 in November and $66,500 in December, just days before the quarter ended, records show.
After spending nearly $8,578 in the quarter, the campaign finished the year with more than $59,071 saved and more than $75,665 in debts, all to the candidate.
Kim said he didn’t want to begin asking donors for money until he was sure he’d be on the ballot.
“It’s just my values,” said Kim, who lives in the neighboring 11th District and initially planned to run for Congress there as a Democrat before jumping to the GOP primary in the 14th.
A Plainfield resident tried to get Kim knocked off the ballot, filing formal objections with the Illinois State Board of Elections in December about the signatures on his petitions and his former status as a Democrat. The board rejected those complaints in January, however.
Kim said he’s since reached out to potential campaign donors.
Underwood is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Marter or Kim in the Nov. 5 general election.
The representative for the 14th District since 2019, Underwood started October with about $1.4 million in her campaign coffers.
The Underwood campaign subsequently collected about $440,396, including more than $315,034 from individuals and nearly $57,231 from political action committees. Donors included: the American Hotel and Lodging Association, which gave $2,500; the Air Line Pilots Association, which gave $2,000; and the National Association of Realtors, which gave $3,000.
Underwood, a registered nurse, also received $5,000 from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, $2,500 from the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology and $1,000 from an industry group called America's Essential Hospitals.
Underwood’s fundraising “is a clear indicator of her strength heading into the November election,” said Pavitra Abraham, a senior adviser with the campaign.
Team Underwood spent about $266,189 in the quarter and finished the year debt-free, records show.
The 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties.