Lauzen vows full, friendly primary campaign against Treasurer Rickert
Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen silenced rumors about his possible retirement Wednesday by saying he has every intention of seeking a third term.
The filing of petitions for county board chairman saw Lauzen file 102 pages of signatures circulated by what Lauzen said were more than 50 volunteers. But the last day of filing saw a challenge by fellow Republican David Rickert, with 78 pages of signatures all circulated by himself.
Rickert is the longtime Kane County treasurer. He tested the waters on a run for chairman back in 2003-04. He bowed out after failing to receive the financial support he believed necessary to win the office.
That paved the way for Republican Karen McConnaughay's tenure before she moved on to the state Senate and then a job in the private sector.
Campaign filings with the state board of elections show Rickert is short on cash again as he ramps up for another bid as chairman. He has less than $18,000 in his campaign coffers.
That compares to the nearly $80,000 Lauzen raised in just the last quarter alone. There are also two Democrats vying for the office, Greg Elsbree and Corinne Pierog. Elsbree has already raised more money -- about $25,000 -- than Rickert.
"Running for office is never easy, and funding a campaign for countywide office will be a challenge," Rickert said in written responses to questions. "I do have broad support of county citizens and elected officials. I also pride myself in listening to others and working in a positive, constructive manner."
In addition to having cash at the ready, Lauzen has already logged two terms and several county political battle scars, including fights with fellow Republicans Joe McMahon, the county state's attorney, and Rob Russell, the country coroner. Until shortly before petition filing, Lauzen would always say when asked that he hadn't yet decided if he was going to run again and he was keeping his options open.
That seemed to be the case with multiple Republicans confirming there were serious discussions about Lauzen moving on once Rickert got into the race if another position could be found that was to Lauzen's liking, possibly in academia.
But multiple Republicans also said it wouldn't surprise them if Lauzen did not feel obligated to stick with any plan for succession created by members of the GOP, who have not universally rallied behind him in previous political campaigns, during his time in the state Senate or through his tenure at the county.
On Wednesday, Lauzen said any rumors or speculation about deals being consummated are false.
"No deals," Lauzen said. "Do I look like a person who wants to retire? We filed my petitions. I enjoy this work at the county very much. We will be running hard. A full campaign."
Lauzen said Rickert did let him know he'd be running before filing his petitions.
"He is a very competent county executive," Lauzen said. "We're good friends. It's a friendly rivalry."
Rickert sidestepped a question about whether he expects Lauzen to stay in the race.
"I have great respect for Chairman Lauzen," Rickert said. "I am thankful voters have two well-qualified candidates to choose from. I'm not running against Chris Lauzen. I'm running to serve the citizens of Kane County."