How Republican opponents want to win back 6th Congressional District
Republicans held the 6th District Congressional seat from 1972 until Democrat Sean Casten took office in 2019.
Now two candidates are seeking to become the GOP nominee who will try to take the seat back in November.
Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and Gordon "Jay" Kinzler of Glen Ellyn are competing in the March 17 Republican primary, and each offers a different strategy for how the party can reclaim the post.
Ives says the GOP needs to more clearly describe how its policies have made great places to live in DuPage County and the rest of the suburban areas across the far-reaching district.
"DuPage Republicans failed to actually message what our core principles are and how our policy solutions are the best to provide economic prosperity and good communities," Ives said.
Kinzler says the party needs to work as a team; stand up against discrimination because of race, religion or other identity-based factors; and overcome "stereotypical views of a conservative Republican."
"That's something I think we have to do a better job at," Kinzler said.
The candidates spoke with the Daily Herald during an endorsement interview, with both saying their approach is best to represent the changing demographics of the Western suburbs. The 6th District makes an arc in the shape of a C from Hinsdale and Naperville through Elgin to just beyond Long Grove and the Barrington area, and includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.
Ives said many residents who moved from Chicago or elsewhere in Cook County throughout the past decade have brought their Democratic leanings and "natural voting patterns with them."
"So we've got our work to do as Republicans to message about how, 'You came here because we enforce the law,'" Ives said. "'You came here because we run schools better.'"
Ives is a three-term former state representative, a West Point graduate and an Army veteran. She ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 Republican primary against then-Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Kinzler hinted that some of Ives' previous messaging -- a TV spot called "Thank you, Bruce Rauner" that both Republican and Democratic leaders criticized as being racist, sexist and homophobic -- leaves her with baggage that will prevent some voters from supporting her.
"I'm not worried about that at all," Ives said.
But Kinzler said he's heard from some constituents that they can't get past the sentiments in her ad.
Voters, Kinzler said, want more assurance that their representative in Congress "will not tolerate any kind of discrimination against any group, whether it be race, religion, creed or any other discriminatory practice." He said he'll provide that, along with an approach based on listening, healing and team building.
"That's where I think I have the best shot against Sean Casten in this upcoming election," Kinzler said, "because I don't have the baggage."
Kinzler is a former Glen Ellyn park board president and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. He works as a kidney transplant surgeon at Elmhurst Hospital and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
Casten, meanwhile, is unopposed in the March 17 Democratic primary and will face the Republican winner in the Nov. 3 general election.