'Most prepared we've ever been': Rep. Lauren Underwood has big fundraising lead in 14th District
Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville has a significant advantage over her Republican challengers when it comes to campaign fundraising, new documents show.
Underwood, who's seeking a third term representing the 14th District, collected about $752,064 in campaign contributions in the last quarter of 2021 and finished the year with nearly $2.1 million saved for the battle ahead, her year-end financial report showed.
Only one of the five Republican candidates in the race, former radio host Mike Koolidge, had a six-figure fundraising quarter -- and his total dropped below that mark after expenses.
Congressional candidates must file quarterly financial reports with the Federal Election Commission once their campaigns collect or spend at least $5,000. Year-end reports covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 were due Monday and can be viewed at fec.gov.
The newly redrawn 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties. That covers some West and Southwest suburbs and a big chunk of north-central Illinois.
Underwood currently is the only Democrat in the race. She narrowly defeated Republican Jim Oberweis in 2020.
The Lauren Underwood for Congress committee started last quarter with nearly $1.8 million in the bank.
Of the donations received during the final three months of 2021, about $621,801 came from individuals and $110,060 came from political action committees, including those representing:
• The Humane Society, which gave $2,000.
• The campaign committee of U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield, which gave $1,000.
• The American Hospital Association, which gave $2,500.
• The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, which gave $5,000.
Underwood's committee reported about $420,884 in spending -- abut 56% of what it took in during the period. It reported no debt.
"Election year is here, and we are the most prepared we've ever been thanks to the ongoing support of Team Underwood," Underwood said in a news release.
Underwood's Republican foes are Koolidge, of Rochelle, Manhattan resident Jack Lombardi, Kendall County Republican Party leader James Marter of Oswego, Kendall County Board Chair Scott Gryder of Oswego, and former Kane County Board member Susan Starrett of North Aurora.
Both Lombardi and Marter initially filed to run in the 16th District but changed races late last year after the boundaries changed and incumbent Republican Adam Kinzinger announced he wouldn't seek reelection.
Koolidge for Congress started fundraising last quarter and received more than $107,428 in campaign contributions during the period.
Of that cash, about $92,512 came from individuals. Notable donors included former Republican gubernatorial and congressional candidate Jeanne Ives, who gave $500, and Republican state Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford, who gave $250.
"I am tremendously grateful and humbled for the support I've received since announcing my run for Congress," Koolidge said in a news release. "We understand that the road to flipping this district is long, and this campaign is just getting started, but we are hitting the ground running in the new year."
Koolidge received no donations from political action committees. He gave the campaign $2,000 and he made more than $3,916 in in-kind contributions by covering the costs of postage, signs and other purchases.
Koolidge also lent the campaign $9,000, records show.
The Koolidge campaign reported nearly $11,255 in spending -- about 11% of what it collected during the period. It ended the year with $96,173 saved.
The Friends of Lombardi committee started October with about $12,729 saved.
It received more than $46,812 during the period, including $41,812 from individuals. Lombardi made $5,000 worth of in-kind contributions to the campaign, too, covering data and marketing work, his report showed.
Lombardi received no money from political groups.
Team Lombardi reported about $25,149 in spending for the quarter -- nearly 54% of what it collected. It finished the year with more than $34,392 saved and no debts.
That latter line in the ledger is one of pride for Lombardi.
"We practice as well as preach fiscal responsibility," he said in an emailed statement. "We are positioning ourselves for a strong fundraising (first quarter) headed to the primary."
Marter for Congress started last quarter with about $17,005 saved.
It received more than $17,081 in campaign contributions from individuals during the period. The sum included $500 from Nevada resident Ronald Solomon, who runs a company that sells products promoting former President Donald Trump. Solomon also donated $3,000 work of caps to the campaign, reports show.
Marter, a member of the Oswego Public Library board, has said he believes Joe Biden fraudulently stole the presidency from Trump in 2020 despite a continued lack of evidence.
Marter also reported a $100 donation from the Plainfield Township Republican Organization.
Marter's committee spent $17,053 in the final quarter -- nearly 86% of what it collected during the period -- and it ended the year with more than $19,904 saved. The Marter campaign also had more than $66,220 in debts, nearly all to the candidate going back to 2017.
Despite the relative lack of funds, Marter said he's "very confident with where we're at right now."
The primary is June 28. The general election is Nov. 8.