Millionaires Appear Headed to Showdown in Race for Hastert’s Seat

Posted February 5, 2008 at 10:07pm

Two free-spending millionaires appear headed to a showdown in the March 8 special election to replace former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Illinois voters on Tuesday were the first to cast ballots in Congressional primaries this election cycle and helped set the stage for some potentially competitive general election races in the Land of Lincoln. In the 14th district, where Hastert resigned in November, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis (R) will square off against wealthy scientist Bill Foster (D) in the special election — and may do so again in November. Oberweis, who spent at least $1.7 million of his own money on the primary, was leading state Sen. Chris Lauzen (R) in a bitter contest, 57 percent to 43 percent, in the special primary, with 44 percent of precincts reporting. In the Democratic primary, Foster’s once-narrow lead was widening over 2006 nominee John Laesch, 50 percent to 43 percent. But in the regular primary, with 54 percent of the precincts reporting, while Oberweis’ margin over Lauzen was about the same as in the special primary, Foster was clinging to a 3-point lead over Laesch. The 14th district in the Chicago suburbs and exurbs leans Republican, but Democrats believe they have a real chance of winning the seat, especially with Foster spending freely on the election. In other notable Illinois primaries Tuesday: • Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) held off a spirited challenge from attorney Mark Pera (D) and is a shoo-in to win a third term in November. With 80 percent of the precincts reporting, Lipinski had 53 percent of the vote to Pera’s 26 percent. • Business consultant Dan Seals (D) is headed to a rematch with Rep. Mark Kirk (R) in the suburban 10th district after trouncing former Clinton White House official Jay Footlik (D). With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Seals had an 83 percent to 17 percent lead in Tuesday’s primary. Running without much fanfare or attention from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Seals held Kirk to 53 percent in 2006, and Democratic leaders believe he’ll have the firepower to deny Kirk a fifth term in November. • In the suburban 11th district, where Rep. Jerry Weller (R) is retiring, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann emerged from a three-way GOP primary and will face state Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson (D) in what is expected to be a highly competitive general election. • In the central Illinois 18th district, where Rep. Ray LaHood (R) is retiring, 26-year-old state Rep. Aaron Schock (R) won his primary handily and is favored to win the seat in November. Democrats have no candidate at the moment after former basketball coach Dick Versace dropped out of the race in the fall. But the Democrats may be able to designate a ballot replacement later this year.