In Underwood's Congressional district, the eyes Tuesday are on 7 Republicans

Updated 3/15/2020 6:18 PM

Democrat Lauren Underwood of Naperville rose to the top of a field of seven Congressional candidates in 2018 to win her party's nomination, then won the traditionally Republican seat outright as part of 2018's national blue wave.

Now there are just as many Republicans lining up in Tuesday's primary for the chance to try to unseat her in November in what will be one of the most hotly contested Congressional elections in the country.


Seven GOP candidates in the sprawling 14th District, which spans parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, have spent the past few months establishing their conservative credentials. They've feuded over Second Amendment rights, health care, immigration, abortion and Social Security.

State Sens. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove and Sue Rezin of Morris are the only candidates with legislative experience. The pair have battled over their voting records.

Catalina Lauf of Woodstock has drawn national media attention for positioning herself as the "anti-AOC" candidate and for her potential to become the youngest person ever to sit in Congress.

Ted Gradel of Naperville has shown he is one of the candidates able raise enough money to compete in what is expected to be one of the most expensive general election battles in the country.

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James Marter of Oswego and Jerry Evans of WSarrenville have established themselves as strong anti-abortion candidates. But they have contrasting immigration views, with Marter taking a more hard-line approach to restrictions on both legal and undocumented entry.

Anthony Catella of St. Charles says he decided against raising substantial funds because that positions him as the candidate who doesn't owe any person or special interest anything.

While the Republican primary in the district now represented by Underwood is the most visible race in the suburbs Tuesday, it's far from the only one that's generating interest.

Onetime governor's candidate Jeanne Ives of Wheaton is taking on former Glen Ellyn park Board president Dr. Gordon "Jay" Kinzler in the Republican primary in the 6th District. The winner will take on U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, another 2018 blue wave freshman who's seen as vulnerable in November.


Meanwhile, incumbent Democrats are getting primary challenges in three districts that take in the suburbs:

Ten-year incumbent Mike Quigley, of Chicago, a member of the Intelligence Committee that heard impeachment testimony against President Donald Trump, faces a challenge from the left by Chicago attorney Brian Burns in the 5th; longtime incumbent Bill Foster of Naperville is defending against another progressive challenge, this one from Will County board member Rachel Ventura of Joliet in the 11th; and second-term incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg, another member of the Intelligence Committee, is being challenged in the 8th by Dr. Inam Hussain of Libertyville and William Olson of Schaumburg, who are opposing him on various issues including immigration and diplomacy with India.​

At the same time, Republicans in the district now represented by Quigley will be choosing between commercial real estate broker Tommy Hanson and psychiatrist Kimball Ladien, both Chicagoans; and those in the district now represented by Foster will be picking between Naperville Planning and Zoning Commissioner Krishna Bansal and Will County Sheriff's Sgt. Rick Laib of Joliet are running for the GOP nomination. The winners in those two primary races will compete against the Democratic winners in November.

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