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A quick look at a few congressional races

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018

* Hmm…



* By all accounts, Randy Hultgren’s Democratic opponent Lauren Underwood is a strong candidate. She scored 57 percent in a seven-way Democratic primary, defeating her closest competitor by a massive 44 points. The Johns Hopkins graduate also has an impressive life story to tell voters and the buzz on her is super strong.

Underwood even outraised Congressman Hultgren in the first quarter, $465K to $361K. Something is definitely happening there. And, as Tom Bowen points out on the Twitter machine, Gov. Rauner isn’t gonna be much help there this year.

* But, in 2016, Donald Trump won the 14th CD by 4 points, Mark Kirk won it by 8 and Leslie Munger won it by 20. Rauner won it by 33 in 2014, Mitt Romney won it by 10 in 2012.

In the 2010 Census, the district’s voting age population was 84 percent white, 9 percent Latino, 4 percent Asian and just 2.5 percent African-American. Underwood is an African-American.

I am NOT saying Underwood cannot win. Stranger things have happened in politics. And, hey, Jesse White won that district by 15 points in 2014, so a black Democrat can prevail. What I am saying is Charlie Cook has this contest as “lean Republican” for good reasons. The partisan split will be difficult to overcome even in a wave election and, frankly, the racial gap makes it all the more difficult.

I’m betting she’s gonna give him a heck of a run, though.

* Greg Hinz

Make of this what you will, but U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, is in line for only midlevel support so far from a top GOP PAC. And neighbor Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, isn’t getting anything at all.

According to Talking Points Memo, neither local district is among the 20 for which the Congressional Leadership Fund has reserved $38 million in TV time. At $1.8 million per district—the ones the group selected are in California, Minnesota, Texas and a few other states—that’s enough to buy some pretty good public exposure, even in Chicago’s expensive TV market. […]

A third Illinois Republican, downstater Mike Bost, is in line for full help, on tap to receive TV and digital ads on his behalf.

* Charlie Cook has that Bost race listed as a tossup and he could be right. According to that TPM story, the Congressional Leadership Fund has reserved $2 million in TV advertising spots for Congressman Bost. He’s probably gonna need it.

Democratic St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly outraised Bost in the first quarter $585K to $535K and had almost a million in the bank at the end of the quarter, just shy of Bost’s total. Like Underwood, Kelly has been placed in the DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program, which means he’s a priority.

The former Navy officer who as state’s attorney sued pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis is billing himself as a moderate pragmatist and has said he will not support US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi if he wins.

Donald Trump won the 12th CD by 15 points, but Tammy Duckworth won it by 9, which gives Democrats some hope. Leslie Munger, however, took it by 5. Barack Obama won it by 1.5 in 2012.

* Back to that Greg Hinz piece about Roskam not getting any money from the Congressional Leadership Fund

One could interpret this as a sign that the powers that be think Roskam is OK and doesn’t need help, that he has the ability to raise money on his own with $2 million already in the bank, or that there just are too many more endangered GOP seats elsewhere in the country. Democrats would argue this is a sign of overconfidence or that the party is writing him off. I’m not sure which is right.

A source close to Roskam had another take: GOP powers are not yet convinced the Democrat in the race, Sean Casten, is going to be a priority for the national Democratic Party, despite all the local chatter about unseating Roskam. So they’re holding their fire, at least for now.

One other potential explanation: Top Democrats are waiting for Casten, who spent a lot of his and his family’s money in the primary, to step up and self-fund for a while. And until that happens, the GOP will spread its green elsewhere.

Democrats would be absolute fools to believe the GOP is already writing off Roskam. Cook has this one as a tossup as well, albeit with a partisan index of R+2, which is less than Bost’s R+5.

Hillary Clinton won the 6th CD by 7 points, which excites Dems, but Mark Kirk won it by 6 and Leslie Munger won it by 21. The only other statewide Democrat besides Clinton to win the district was Jesse White, who took it by 17 in 2014. Obama lost it by 8 in 2012.

Casten narrowly defeated five women opponents and one male opponent in the primary. There was a palpable sense of relief among Republicans when Casten won because they were much more afraid of a female nominee. I could go on, but this race has already been covered to death by other outlets.

* Your thoughts on any or all of these races?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


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