Ballots for 16th district voters will have two congressional candidates listed, but only one of them feels confident in the support of the party.
Newcomer Wanda Rohl, an Ottawa Democrat, said she has not received any support from the national-level party. She said she didn’t expect to receive donations from the organization.
While she is proud of the grassroots effort of local volunteers, Rohl said she would appreciate some publicity through the Democratic Party, “at least on their websites and send out something to all of their members saying we have this challenge inIllinois.”
“I’m getting stuff from them all the time — ‘Please donate to Tammy Duckworth’ and ‘Please donate to Cheri Bustos’… I would like them to say at least there’s a challenge in the 16th,” she said. Calls seeking comment from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee were not returned.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican now residing in Minooka, has so far out-raised his challenger by a 300-to-1 margin. However, much of that cash was raised during a hard-fought primary campaign against fellow incumbent, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, a Republican from theRockfordarea.
According to Federal Election Comission, by June 30, Kinzinger had raised $1,728,129 in the current campaign. Of that, $133,964 was received between April 1 and June 30.
According to the Federal Election Commission, by June 30, Rohl had raised a total of $5,077. She officially entered the race by filing on June 4.
In cash on hand, there is again a widespread gap between the candidates: Kinzinger reported $206,153 in cash on hand at the close of the filing period, while Rohl reported just $2,982 cash on hand.
There is one category in which Rohl exceeds Kinzinger in fundraising, and that is the amount of donations from political party committees. Kinzinger received $1,000 from Kankakee County Republican Central Committee, and no othercountyRepublicancommittees. Rohl has received $1,450 from Bureau, DeKalb and Ogle county democratic committees and DePue Democratic Club.
Kinzinger’s committee actually has been making donations to other political committees: $1,373 to Eric Cantor’s committee, $30,000 to Illinois Republican Party and $16,500 to National Republican Congressional Committee.
“We knew that this district was drawn as a giveaway. It doesn’t mean that the people of this district are happy about it,” Rohl said.
She referenced the recent redistricting process that greatly changed the shape of congressional districts in the area, pushing La Salle and Bureau counties from the 11th Congressional District into the boomerang-shaped 16th district, which now stretches north and east to touchIndiana andWisconsin, while borderingChicago’s collar counties.
“The amount of money we’ve raised in a month — My opponent can raise that in two phone calls. We know that,” Rohl said.
“We are where we kind of expected to be, and we are fighting really hard,” Rohl said.
For her part, Rohl tells supporters to donate to her campaign directly, not to the DCCC, unless they tell the committee those donations are for Rohl. Otherwise, the money would be spent in other districts, she said.
She also announced she would not accept donations or endorsements from large organizations or political action committees.
“The amount of strings that come with that kind of money, is not something that I’m comfortable with,” Rohl said. “I think that if you go around the district and you talk to people, they are sick of the money that’s being thrown into our government.”
Rohl alleged Kinzinger has received donations from people involved in industries regulated by committees on which he sits. Kinzinger is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. FEC records indicate he received donations including $4,000 from the president of Exelon Corp. According to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political donations using FEC data, Kinzinger has received $21,000 this election cycle from individuals associated with Exelon.
She challenged Kinzigner to return such donations.
“I think there’s an ethical dilemma,” she said.
In response to News Tribune questions about Rohl’s challenge and Kinzinger’s fundraising strategy, Kinzinger spokesman Erik Rayman issued a statement:
“The congressman is proud of the support he has received all across the new 16th District. He will continue to introduce himself to voters with a clear, direct and consistent message: free market, conservative principles triumph over the notion that government can solve all problems by writing a blank check. He looks forward to a spirited campaign over two very different philosophies on how to get America moving again.”
Allison Ryan can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or firstname.lastname@example.org