Two years ago, Gurnee resident Jim Walz edged his Democratic opponent for the nomination for the 14th Congressional District, only to lose in a landslide to Republican Randy Hultgren that fall.
This time, Walz has a lot more competition in Tuesday’s primary.
The district, which covers parts of DeKalb, McHenry, Kendall, Lake, DuPage and Will counties, has been represented by Hultgren, a Republican from Plano since 2011.
Hultgren’s opponents claim he’s out of touch, that he flip-flops, and that he won’t be an agent of change going forward. Here is how they say they’ll change that:
Hosta, a Merrill Lynch account executive, finished about 2,800 votes behind Walz in the 2016 primary.
He said that because he doesn’t accept campaign contributions – his war chest boasts about $400 – and isn’t endorsed by special-interest groups, he’s beholden only to the voter.
“There’s nobody I need to be loyal to, beside the average person,” he said.
The keystones of Hosta’s campaign are maintaining Social Security, protecting domestic industries and constitutionalizing the federal reserve.
After receiving 27,706 votes to Hosta’s 24,866 in 2016, Walz got 40.7 percent of the votes (137,589), compared with Hultgren’s 59.3 percent (200,508) that fall.
“If I win the primary, Randy Hultgren is going to have a handful on his hands,” he said. “I neutralize a lot of his strong points. Then we come to a whole different area of policy. This is where Randy really falls apart.”
Whereas Hosta has been here, tried this, Weber is a chemical engineer by trade who said his outsider’s view is invaluable to the political process.
“I”m not happy with what’s going on in the world,” the retired Lakewood resident said. “I’m frustrated that nothing is going on in Congress.”
He said Hultgren hasn’t taken a strong enough stance on climate change, but his biggest beef – a common theme among the challengers – is that Hultgren is out of touch with his constituents.
“He doesn’t have town-hall meetings, and I’m going to be just the opposite,” Weber said. “I plan to talk to the people, which he hasn’t done.”
Brolley, the 36-year-old mayor of Montgomery, echoed Weber’s sentiment that Hultgren hasn’t been as available as the public deserves.
“I’m accountable to my residents,” he said. “I have to go to the grocery store, get my haircut and go out to eat.”
Brolley touts his ability to reach across the aisle, saying he convinced Republican members of Montgomery government to approve a sales tax referendum to fix roads.
“That differentiates me from the others in the field, and I plan to mimic that at the federal level,” he said. “We need to come to consensus on things that are for the public good.”
He said in addition to infrastructure, health care and the environment are his top priorities.
Underwood, who was appointed by President Barack Obama as a special assistant and senior adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a registered nurse by trade.
She said her experience on Capitol Hill separates her from the other six Democratic candidates.
“I’m the only candidate with federal experience, the only candidate who’s worked on Capitol Hill,” she said.
She said because Hultgren voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, this race is personal. She’s been diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia , a pre-existing condition that when not medicated, prevents regulation of her heart rate.
She said she also embraces the opportunity to be the first woman elected to represent the 14th District.
“It’s about time,” she said.
Roldan-Johnson’s campaign page describes him as a “fighter” for his students, for those at risk and for justice and equality for “those too often overlooked.”
He’s a first-generation high school graduate, according to the website, and a political science graduate from Florida Atlantic University, where he developed an interest in world and national affairs. He got his master’s degree in education at DePaul University, where he met his husband, Christian, according to the site.
Swanson, like Roldan-Johnson, is a teacher and a first-time political candidate. He said the state’s inability to keep up with the increase in students who are low-income is a key issue.
He said in the 18 years since he served in the Navy, the percentage of low-income students has more than doubled.
“That doesn’t mean the state has doubled or tripled their resources,” he said. “That’s a failure of our state and federal government.”
He said his father’s battle with Parkinson’s, and his sister being a diabetic has made strengthening Medicare a priority. He said the only time Hultgren shows any support of science is when it comes to Batavia-based Fermilab.
“I’m not happy with the way Randy Hultgren was representing the district,” Swanson said. “I’m worried about the future for my children, and for my students.”
Walz said he’s not running against six other Democratic candidates, “I’m running for residents of the 14th District.”
He said he wants to get money out of politics, and that he takes pride in his campaign being made up by volunteers – most notably, he said, his campaign manager, Kerri Barber.
“She’s been the glue to keep this things together,” he said.
He said he’s endorsed by the Kane County Progressives, DeKalb Area Progressives, Will County Progressives, and the Illinois Berniecrats chapter of Our Revolution.
He said he’s cognizant that it will take more than appealing to progressives and Democrats to unseat Hultgren – that he’ll need votes from moderates and Republicans alike.
“We all have the same issues we face each and every day, and I think you’ll find we’re in agreement more than we’re not,” Walz said.