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home : news : news   May 24, 2016

8/1/2014 5:14:00 AM
Primary cleaned out many Republicans' funds

Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

The primary campaign season was a costly one for Republicans, many of whom dug deeply into their pockets to lock up nominations.

Race for Congress
One exception: U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger. The Channahon Republican made quick work of an under-funded GOP challenger in March and now steams toward Nov. 4 with a hefty war chest at his disposal.

Kinzinger’s primary challenger, David Hale Jr. of Rockford, was at one point outspent 200-to-1. Kinzinger crushed him with a 79-percent majority.

As of Monday, Kinzinger was sitting on more than $1.5 million in cash reserves as he seeks a third term in Congress representing most of the Illinois Valley area, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“This broad level of support shows that Congressman Kinzinger’s positive message of renewing America is resonating across the 16th District,” said campaign spokesman Zach Hunter.

By contrast, Democratic challenger Randall Olsen of Ottawa had cash on hand of just $5,569.

Reached by phone Monday, Olsen termed the figures “probably accurate” and said his cash “goes out about as quickly as it comes in.”

But Olsen said he’s running a grassroots campaign and he’s been collecting support from “county-level Democrats.” He wants prospective voters to know his candidacy isn’t tied to special interests.

“I don’t have strong ties with corporate sponsors, which is kind of an advantage,” Olsen said. “I’m not beholden to a lot of powerful people.”

Marshall County residents' 'Rep'
Another incumbent Republican seeking re-election enjoys a similar cash advantage. U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, whose district includes Marshall County, reported cash reserves of nearly $2.2 million while Democratic challenger Darrel Miller had just $16,506 in his till.

Marquee matchup
Kinzinger and Schock are better positioned than Republicans who withstood better-known and better-funded primary challengers, including Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for governor.

Rauner eked out a tight win in a four-way race for the GOP nomination, and it shows in his post-primary balance sheet.

Rauner entered the spring reporting period with just $1.4 million in cash on hand, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He’s since raised $8 million and spent nearly $6 million, leaving him with a fund balance of $3.5 million.

For now, he lags far behind Gov. Pat Quinn, who reported $11.7 million in cash on hand as of June 28.

Senate situation
Similarly, Republican Jim Oberweis emerged from a contested primary race for the U.S. Senate nomination with just $1.4 million in cash as of Monday. Come Nov. 4 he faces off against incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who was sitting on more than $8.1 million in cash.

Cash comeback likely
Bob Vickrey, former chairman of the La Salle County Republican Central Committee, said he doesn’t expect either nominee to face a cash shortage come November. Statewide, Republicans will gladly funnel contributions into both races — Quinn is deemed particularly vulnerable — and both Rauner and Oberweis have means to draw upon. “They’re independently wealthy in their own right and they have friends who are willing to help,” Vickrey said.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.

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