Hours after state Sen. Randall Hultgren won the Republican nomination in the 14th Congressional District, he said he’s prepared to go out and do it all over again.
Hultgren will face incumbent Democrat Bill Foster in the November general election.
Hultgren’s strategy for success, the Republican challenger said, will be to keep building momentum.
“For us to be successful, we’re going to reach out to everybody,” Hultgren said.
That includes his Republican primary opponent, Ethan Hastert, and Hastert’s supporters.
“I had a good conversation with Ethan Hastert last night. He committed his support to me,” Hultgren said. “I appreciate that so much; it was a wonderful call.”
Matt Streb, an associate political science professor at Northern Illinois University who specializes in elections and voting behavior, thought the 14th Congressional District race had the most surprising results, although he knew it would be close.
“Most people thought Hastert would win pretty easily,” Streb said. “Hultgren had a chance to make it closer, but I wouldn’t have guessed he would have won and by the margin that he did.”
Streb said Hastert’s name recognition – he’s the son of former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert – was a strength and a weakness.
“Ultimately it hurt him, as well, because the speaker still has some baggage,” Streb said.
Dennis Hastert’s resignation led to Foster winning the seat in a special election, and a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman said that voters’ trust in Foster has not wavered.
“Congressman Foster has really built this very strong trust and respect with voters,” DCCC Midwestern regional press secretary Gabby Adler said. “He is a businessman and a scientist, and voters know that he is very deliberate in his votes and his work.”
What stands out between Hultgren and Foster is their solutions to the bad economy and name recognition, Adler said.
Hultgren believes what fundamentally separates him from his opponent is how they view the role of government.
“He’s been supportive of a larger federal government, and I’ll be presenting a better idea of a smaller federal government – having the government stay out of our pockets and out of our way as much as possible,” Hultgren said.
Both camps said it’s much too early to know what direction the campaign trails are headed, but they agree that it has already started.
The DCCC, which is handling Foster’s campaign until a committee is formed, sent a press release Wednesday morning attacking Hultgren’s tax-raising record, while Hultgren said he’s already seen the party come together, in part to a Republican unity breakfast that was held Wednesday in Chicago.