Suburban Republican says he'll challenge Mark Kirk
A western suburban man is trying to position himself as a more conservative alternative to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and has started gathering petition signatures to face the Highland Park Republican in the March primary.
Software consultant James Marter of Oswego says he doesn't think Kirk is "representing the Republican party and its principles," which is why he's announced he's running for Senate.
He pointed to Kirk's vote to deny debate on a measure to defund Planned Parenthood and relatively low rating with the National Rifle Association.
Marter, who is a GOP precinct committeeman in Kendall County but has never held elected office, faces a tough campaign against an incumbent lawmaker but said he wouldn't be sticking with it if he'd received a tepid response to his petitions. He's campaigned in downstate Rock Island and Morton in recent days.
Kirk has won the backing of Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, among others, in his bed for re-election.
"Republican, independent and reform-minded voters across the state strongly support Senator Kirk's leadership on demanding a balanced budget, holding the line on taxes, working to keep jobs in Illinois and fighting the dangerous Iran deal that threatens our national security," Kirk campaign manager Kevin Artl said.
Marter is a native of downstate Bartonville who has lived in Oswego the last 18 years, he said. He once ran for school board in Michigan and last year made a write-in bid to be an Oswego village trustee.
He says he isn't trying for a lower office because he's a fan of the state lawmakers and congressman, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano, who represent him now.
Marter said working for himself has taught him to balance the magnitude of a Senate campaign with his day job.
"I still have to work my day job," Marter said. "I'm not Donald Trump."
Candidates have several more weeks to gather enough petition signatures to get on the March primary ballot.