National and local Republicans are recruiting state Rep. Darlene Senger to challenge Democratic Rep. Bill Foster — and she has confirmed interest in taking him on in suburban Chicago's 11th District.
"I'm considering it, but I haven't announced anything yet," Senger said in a Thursday phone interview with CQ Roll Call. She added that she is in the exploratory phase of a campaign and fundraising is a top consideration in her viability.
The 11th District won't be easy for Republicans to pick up next year. In 2012, Foster defeated former GOP Rep. Judy Biggert, by 17 points. Still, Republicans hold out hope they can win the district in part because of the competitive nature of the Chicago suburbs and exurbs.
Foster first came to Congress in an early 2008 special election. He won a full term later that year, but he lost re-election in 2010. Democrats redrew the state's congressional map the next year, crafting a Democratic-leaning district in the suburbs that included about a quarter of Foster's former turf.
Despite Foster's margin and the district's composition, Republicans refuse to write off the seat. Traditionally, the Chicagoland suburbs represent highly competitive turf. Republicans picked up several House seats in that area in 2010, only to lose them to Democrats in 2012.
"Part of what we're looking at now is a trend in Illinois — [in] all of the non-presidential years, there is a way different race voter profile than there is during the presidential years," Senger said on why she could outperform Biggert's 2012 numbers.
Also, Senger or any other GOP challenger will not have to contend with the coattails of Illinois' native son, President Barack Obama, in 2014 — or ever again.
But if Republicans make another poor showing here in 2014, it is hard to see how they will invest time and money in this district down the line. Also, Democrats point out that Foster outperformed Obama in the district in 2012.
Senger lives in Naperville, a suburb west of Chicago. She has served in Illinois House since 2009. Before her political career, she was a financial adviser. Her state committee assignments are related to finance.