Underwood to get help from national group in bid to unseat Hultgren
If money talks, Democrats said Thursday Lauren Underwood has a real shot at upsetting incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren in the 14th Congressional District election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee selected Underwood as one of only 33 candidates across the country for its "Red to Blue" program. The program falls short of a party endorsement, but it will equip Underwood with staffing, strategic guidance, training and fundraising support for the general election in November.
"As a nurse and former senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services, Lauren Underwood has spent her life fighting for Americans to have access to affordable and quality health care," DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan said in a written statement. "Lauren is ready to stand up and fight to give the people of Illinois back their voice in Congress by flipping this seat in November."
Underwood came onto the party's radar with a big show of support in Tuesday's primary. More people voted for Underwood than for the six other Democrats in the race combined. She tallied about 57 percent of the vote even in a crowded field.
The 14th Congressional District includes parts of DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. It's been considered one of the safest seats for Republicans in northern Illinois since the 2010 redistricting. It's been so safe Hultgren hasn't even engaged in debates with Democratic opponents in any of the recent contests.
That may change with the Democratic Party dedicating resources to the district for the first time since Hultgren won the seat. The support also comes at a time when Hultgren appears less prepared for more intense competition.
Federal Elections Commission records show Hultgren with about $485,000 on hand as of the end of February. That compares to the $165,000 Underwood has right now.
However, in the last two-year cycle Hultgren raised only about $885,000. In the 2015-16 cycle, he amassed $1.4 million. Underwood raised about $321,000 in less than a year without the support from the DCCC.
"I'm proud to be my party's nominee and excited to channel the wave of energy we've seen over the past months to win in November," Underwood said in a written statement. "This is a campaign for anyone and everyone ready for change in Washington. I've never been more hopeful about the future of this community and this country."
If Underwood wins in November, she'll become both the first woman and first black candidate to represent the district.