As Election Day nears, Casten far better funded than challengers

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove entered the closing weeks of his Democratic primary race vastly better funded than his two challengers, records show.

Casten, who’s seeking a fourth term representing Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, ended February with $921,763 saved for advertising, polling or other campaign expenses, his pre-primary report indicates.

That’s more than 22 times what rival Mahnoor Ahmad of Oakbrook Terrace had in the bank as of the same date, her report shows. Fellow challenger Charles Hughes of Chicago was even worse off financially, with less than $22 saved for the critical run up to the March 19 primary election.

Reports covering campaign fundraising and spending between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 were due to the Federal Election Commission last week. They can be viewed at

The Casten campaign started February with more than $1 million in the bank, and it subsequently collected more than $185,619. That latter sum is more than what Ahmad and Hughes have collected over the course of the entire campaign, combined, records show.

Casten’s receipts in the first two months of 2024 included about $136,944 from individuals and $45,000 from political action committees representing assorted companies, labor unions and special interest groups. High-profile donors included: Google, United Airlines and Walgreen Co., each of which gave $1,000; BMO Financial, which gave $5,000; and Prudential Financial, which gave $3,000.

Team Casten spent about $305,348 on advertising, fundraising services, polling, staff salaries and more during the period. It reported more than $75,694 in old debts to the candidate.

With Election Day in one week, Casten spokesman Jacob Vurpillat said the congressman and his team “are confident voters will find his values best align with theirs once again.”

Ahmad’s campaign didn’t begin fundraising until late 2023, and it started 2024 with less than $4,696 in the bank. Ahmad reported $51,122 in donations from individuals this period and no money from political action committees of any kind. She is refusing corporate donations.

After spending about $14,818 on signs, a radio ad, campaign software and other expenses, Ahmad ended the period with about $41,000 saved and no debts.

When asked about the financial disparity between the campaigns, Ahmad spokesman William Beaulieu criticized Casten for accepting donations from special interests.

“Votes are the only thing that are counted, not dollars spent,” Beaulieu said. “Our goal is to out-organize and keep meeting actual voters (and) to convince them to vote for the only candidate who will represent the entire district.”

Hughes, a NiCor Gas employee making his third bid for Congress, started the year with less than $10 in his campaign coffers. The only donation he reported was about $2,855 of his own money.

Hughes spent about $2,865 on advertising and other expenses during the period.

Running inexpensive campaigns is nothing new for Hughes. He spent less than $10,000 on his unsuccessful 2022 campaign and didn’t file any fundraising documents when he ran for the 3rd District seat in 2020.

Republican Niki Conforti of Glen Ellyn is running unopposed in her party’s primary and will face the victorious Democrat in the Nov. 5 general election.

Conforti started 2024 with about $9,362 in her campaign coffers. She raised $14,440 during the period and spend about $2,805, finishing with about $20,997 saved and $8,000 in debt.

The 6th District includes parts of Cook and DuPage counties.

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