Sanguinetti aiming for Casten's seat in 6th Congressional District
Former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti tore into U.S. Rep. Sean Casten Monday as she launched her campaign for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District, a key political battleground in 2020.
Sanguinetti, who previously served on the Wheaton City Council before Gov. Bruce Rauner made her his running mate, said she better represents the values of the swing district that once supported Ronald Reagan and Rep. Henry Hyde.
She said she will bring a conservative but independent voice to Congress, willing to speak out on immigration, health care reform and the need to hold the line on taxes.
As the child of immigrants from Cuba and Ecuador, she said she is an example of the American dream and "I am running for the 6th Congressional District to keep that American dream alive."
She announced her bid during a sometimes fiery speech before a crowd of supporters at Wheaton's Seven Dwarfs restaurant ahead of campaign stops in Cary and Barrington.
Sanguinetti accused Casten, a Downers Grove Democrat in his third month in office, of being "tax happy" and wanting to bring more government into people's lives.
"There is not a tax hike Sean Casten has not liked," she said, and suggested he and other Democrats are trying to move the country toward the kind of socialism her mother escaped in Cuba.
"We call him Sean Casten here today," she told the crowd, "but from a personal standpoint, I call him Sean Castro."
Casten won his seat in November, defeating longtime GOP incumbent Peter Roskam of Wheaton in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Casten and Naperville's Lauren Underwood, who defeated Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren of Plano in the 14th District, joined a diverse freshman class that enabled Democrats to take control of the House.
Casten's campaign manager, Chloe Hunt, said Sanguinetti's record in Springfield "left Illinois without a budget for two years and resulted in endless gridlock and dysfunction. Just like (President Donald) Trump, Sanguinetti chose to play divisive political games instead of actually getting things done, and will pursue extreme right-wing policies on abortion and same-sex marriage that are out of step with this district."
"The last thing Illinois needs is Evelyn Sanguinetti bringing to Congress more of the same sort of dysfunction, corruption and gridlock that she presided over in Springfield," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Mike Gwin said. "And, the last thing families in Illinois can afford is Sanguinetti serving as a rubber-stamp for the Trump agenda of higher taxes for homeowners and higher health insurance premiums for the middle-class."
Sanguinetti will try to court voters with her personal story about growing up as the daughter of an Ecuadorian immigrant father and a refugee mother who fled Cuba during Fidel Castro's regime to Hialeah, Florida.
"My mother chose to have me and keep me when she was only 15 years of age," said Sanguinetti, who disagreed with Rauner's signature on a law expanding abortion coverage for Medicaid recipients.
"What drew me to Rauner was education," she said during an interview Friday with the Daily Herald. "I failed the first grade. I didn't know English when I started school, and I was hungry a lot of the time and always living one step ahead of the landlord, and I felt that Bruce Rauner and I did a lot of amazing work."
Sanguinetti, who has multiple sclerosis, will make health care reform and immigration signature campaign issues.
"When I hear things like repeal and replace, and when I see that my party has had 10 years to find that replacement, I can tell you that I'm going to be that voice to say you need to protect people like me with this pre-existing condition," she said.
Sanguinetti also breaks with some in her party in opposing the Trump administration's separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"I know all of the pains and struggles that families have gone through," she said. "That's my perspective. It's authentic. We've lived it."
The Value In Electing Women PAC, a group that encourages Republican women to run for office, reached out to Sanguinetti about her political future.
"I think it's a positive thing because when you take a look at all of the females that were sworn into Congress, the last cycle there was only one Republican," she said. "Of course you want to get the person that's the best for the job, but at the same time, I value diversity and I value inclusion and the fact that we bring something to the table that's different."
In her Friday interview, Sanguinetti initially was evasive about whether she will back President Donald Trump in 2020, but a campaign spokesman later said she supports his re-election.
DuPage County Board member Greg Hart has been mentioned as another potential GOP challenger for the congressional seat, but he said Monday he's not going to run. He was appointed to the board in September 2017 and won a 4-year term in November.
There has been no indication Roskam wants to recapture the seat.
The 6th District makes the shape of a C from Naperville to Tower Lakes.