GOP's Seth Lewis has a new opponent for 24th Senate seat
A former DuPage County Board member has come forward to run against a first-term Republican state lawmaker in the now-contested race for an Illinois Senate seat.
The Democratic-controlled redistricting process in Illinois put state Rep. Seth Lewis into a new House district, pitting GOP colleagues against each other.
Rather than face fellow state Rep. Amy Grant, Lewis launched a bid for a 2-year seat in the 24th Senate District.
His opponent, Lauren "Laurie" Nowak, was slated by her party after no candidate ran in the Democratic primary. Nowak turned in nominating petitions on the last filing day for slated candidates.
Two years ago, Lewis ousted Democrat Diane Pappas in his old House district, helping stave off a blue sweep of legislative seats in DuPage.
Nowak said she decided to run after an anticipated rematch between Pappas and Lewis didn't materialize for the Senate seat.
"When she decided not to, members of my community began reaching out asking me to consider, since I have the experience, passion, and unbeholden independence to be a servant leader for our district," Nowak said in a campaign statement.
At 25, Nowak became the youngest woman elected to the DuPage County Board in 2012. She lost reelection two years later when former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner received nearly 61% of the DuPage vote.
When the Bartlett Democrat saw that Lewis "was being handed this seat unopposed," Nowak said she "had to run to fight for a common-sense agenda that will actually deliver for our district."
Nowak's statement said she'll "seek to reduce the cost of healthcare, safeguard women's health and autonomy, and ensure access to well-funded education and safe, affordable childcare."
According to her campaign bio, she returned to the U.S. after teaching in Spain before the pandemic and worked as a Spanish interpreter for an in-home therapy program facilitated by the state for children with speech and developmental delays.
Nowak is currently working toward a dual master's degree in public administration and public policy from Northern Illinois University.
Lewis said he beat the Democratic incumbent in his old House district because his message resonated with voters.
"I was predicted to lose. Donald Trump lost DuPage County," Lewis said. "Yet as a Republican legislator, I won by almost seven points in that election, and that was due to going out, meeting with people, not over-promising, but being honest with who I am, what I intend to do in Springfield, and promising to listen, learn and represent my district, which is what I believe I have done."
The freshman lawmaker considers among his top accomplishments legislation aimed at ensuring children with cancer are approved for comprehensive cancer tests, including DNA sequencing, based on the advice of their doctors, and not on the prior authorization of insurance companies.
Lewis has a degree in industrial engineering and worked in manufacturing for nearly 18 years before he became an insurance agent. His wife is the superintendent of Diamond Lake Elementary District 76 in Lake County.
Lewis had no opponent in the GOP primary, but he expected someone to run against him in the Nov. 8 general election.
"We put up campaign signs, anticipating that we would have a challenger, which we did," he said, "and we are continuing with the same strategies we've always been running."
The meandering Senate district looks like an upside-down L, including parts of Wheaton, Winfield, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Roselle, Itasca and Wood Dale.
Sen. Suzanne "Suzy" Glowiak Hilton, a Western Springs Democrat, represents the 24th District under the old map. Hilton and Republican Dennis Reboletti are vying for the newly drawn 23rd Senate seat.