Endorsement: Rezin for Republicans in House 14th District

  • Seven candidates are squaring off in the March Republican primary for 14th Congressional District nomination. The Daily Herald endorses state Sen. Sue Rezin, pictured at far left in a January forum.

      Seven candidates are squaring off in the March Republican primary for 14th Congressional District nomination. The Daily Herald endorses state Sen. Sue Rezin, pictured at far left in a January forum. Jim Fuller | Staff Photographer

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 2/17/2020 10:05 AM

Illinois' 14th Congressional District, which rings the suburbs from the Wisconsin state line to the Joliet area, will be one of the most closely watched in the nation this year and is expected to play a role in determining the balance of power in the U.S. House for the next two years -- whether Democrats maintain control or whether Republicans gain it. The 14th is, according to the respected Cook Political Report, one of 23 swing districts across the country that either party could win.

Until two years ago, it had been solidly Republican, represented for four terms by U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren of Naperville. Before that, an earlier version of the district had been represented for one term by Bill Foster. Until two years ago, Foster, who now represents the 11th District, had been the only Democrat to interrupt the Republican dominance that had been exerted for the previous 20 years by since-disgraced former Speaker Dennis Hastert of Plano.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Two years ago, the Blue Wave turned out Hultgren and swept in Lauren Underwood, a young moderate Democrat from Naperville with a nursing degree who had done work for the Obama administration but had no previous political runs. With Democrats sensing Hultgren's vulnerability, seven competed in their party's primary to challenge him, and Underwood emerged as the victor and ultimately, as the district's new representative. Not only that, she's garnered something of a national profile. She will be tough to beat.

But two years later, it's seven Republicans who sense vulnerability in the incumbent. They're vying for a chance to swing the district back to its GOP roots. Republican voters have a couple good options in this field.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove is one of them. The owner of Oberweis Dairy and a suburban fixture for years in Republican politics, Oberweis has developed in both stature and philosophical perspective during his time in Springfield. We've endorsed him for the state Senate in the past and he's shown himself to be an energetic workhorse. Still strongly conservative, he has tempered his rhetoric on illegal immigration and focused more recently on economic issues.

But we think the best bet is state Sen. Sue Rezin of Morris, an effective 10-year veteran of the legislature and an assistant leader for the Republican Senate caucus.

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If the country is ever going to heal itself, we need representatives in Congress who can work collaboratively, who will listen to each other, who will debate each other respectfully, who will refrain from the name-calling and strive to find common ground.

Unfortunately, Oberweis' campaign so far seems to embrace the cynical name calling, wildly and falsely labeling Underwood, for example, as a "radical socialist."

Rezin, 56, is a fellow conservative, but one with moderate, pragmatic views that not only are more in line with the district but also provide her with a stronger chance to attract support from independent voters in what is expected to be a close general election.

She studied international business and political science in college and graduated from a program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Governments. She minored in Hispanic Studies. In contrast to the other five candidates at a recent League of Women Voters forum in Batavia (Oberweis did not attend) Rezin's responses to most policy question rang notably more centrist than those of her ballot mates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The most striking difference in tone between Rezin and her opponents relates to the issue of abortion. While most leave no wiggle room in their "100% pro-life" stance, Rezin makes allowances for cases of incest, rape and the health of the mother. She supports the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association but supports a law that protects people who are in mental decline by giving a judge power to take away their guns. She also supports the Equal Rights Amendment; "I want equal rights for my daughters," she said. In addition, Rezin has worked to mitigate flooding problems in her district. "You affect climate change by recognizing it exists," she said.

With the exception of Rezin, the remaining five candidates expressed reliably conservative positions on the major issues -- abortion, the Affordable Care Act, immigration, climate change, the role of the U.S. in world affairs and federal funding for contraception.

Others in the race include:

• James Marter, 57, of Oswego, a software consultant and Kendall County GOP chairman who has not held a publicly elected office;

• Ted Gradel, 55, of Naperville, a businessman and political outsider;

• Jerry Evans, 36, of Warrenville, the owner of a music school.

• Catalina Lauf, 26, of Woodstock, who works in business development for a clothing company; and

• Anthony Catella, 49, of St. Charles, a store clerk and former priest.

We believe Rezin offers Republicans the best chance of an election victory in November. Of the seven Republicans running, she also offers the best potential for public service. She's got our endorsement.

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