6th Congressional District candidates banking cash for primary run

The campaign coffers for the seven Democrats seeking their party's nomination in the 6th Congressional District range from more than $500,000 to less than $2,000 as the candidates prepare for the primary five weeks away.

Kelly Mazeski of Barrington Hills had the largest stockpile of campaign cash at the end of the year with $513,086, according to quarterly reports and yearly financial summaries filed with the Federal Election Commission. Ryan Huffman of Palatine had the least at $1,826.

Mazeski, Huffman and five others - Becky Anderson Wilkins of Naperville, Sean Casten of Downers Grove, Carole Cheney of Naperville, Amanda Howland of Lake Zurich and Jennifer Zordani of Clarendon Hills - are on the March 20 ballot seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton in November.

Several of the candidates say they're focused more on meeting voters and making a good impression than they are on raising money. Still, fundraising remains a measure of the strength and reach of a campaign. Here's a look at several key take-aways from fundraising in the seven-way race:

Top dollars

Mazeski, a 58-year-old former chemist, brought in contributions totaling $164,742 during the final three months of 2017 to bring her available cash to $513,086, according to year-end reports.

Second-highest among the field is Casten, a 46-year-old engineer and entrepreneur, who got $86,694 in contributions last quarter and finished the year with $409,431 on hand.

Cheney's fundraising came in third. The 56-year-old former congressional chief of staff secured $82,913 during the fourth quarter and ended up with a campaign fund of $124,355 at the end of the year.

After that, totals drop to below $100,000, with Anderson Wilkins at $97,435, year-end reports show.

Loans boost totals

Three of the four candidates with the most money have given personal loans to their campaigns, meaning their high bankrolls come not only from fundraising, but also from their personal finances.

Mazeski, Casten and Anderson Wilkins each have loaned amounts to their campaigns.

Casten's loan is the largest at $430,000 since his campaign committee started keeping records last April. Mazeski has loaned her campaign $295,000, and Anderson Wilkins, a 59-year-old bookseller, has loaned her campaign $36,500.

Also contributing a loan to her campaign is Howland, a 65-year-old civil rights attorney. Howland's cash on hand stood at $41,085 at the close of 2017, putting her fifth among the field. She has loaned her campaign $29,500, records show.

Not all about money

Candidates with less cash, including Zordani, a 53-year-old regulatory and financial services attorney, and Huffman, a 31-year-old data analyst, say money isn't everything.

Zordani, who had $36,448 on hand at the end of the year, says she's created a "people-powered campaign" that is conducting strong outreach to voters to show she's not an "establishment voice," but offers a new perspective. Plus, she says, there's no direct correlation between campaign cash and good governance.

And Huffman, with the smallest campaign fund of $1,826 according to year-end reports, says he's running a "different style of campaign" to try to change "a system where only people with personal fortunes and wealthy connections have a shot at being elected."

Roskam's cash

With $576,529 in contributions last quarter and $1.6 million available at the end of the year, Roskam's campaign fund had more than three times even the most strongly financed of his field of potential opponents.

Roskam's campaign did not record any loans last year.

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6th District boundaries

The 6th U.S. Congressional District of Illinois takes the shape of a "C" and stretches from Naperville to Tower Lakes in parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry Counties. The district includes all or parts of the following communities: Algonquin, Barrington, Barrington Hills, Bartlett, Burr Ridge, Carol Stream, Cary, Clarendon Hills, Crystal Lake, Darien, Deer Park, Downers Grove, East Dundee, Elgin, Forest Lake, Fox River Grove, Glen Ellyn, Gilberts, Hawthorn Woods, Hinsdale, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Kildeer, Lake Barrington, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Lake Zurich, Lisle, Lombard, Long Grove, Naperville, North Barrington, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Oakwood Hills, Palatine, Port Barrington, Rolling Meadows, South Barrington, Sleepy Hollow, South Elgin, St. Charles, Tower Lakes, Trout Valley, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, West Dundee, Westmont, Wheaton, Willowbrook, and Winfield.

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