AURORA -- Bookended by two bouquets of red, white and blue balloons, state Sen. Chris Lauzen made his congressional run official here Wednesday morning, doing so in a park "very near and dear" to him as a child.
"The long, 16-year journey (in politics) has come to this point, and here we are at the beginning once again," said Lauzen, a conservative Republican from Aurora. "Fasten your seat belts -- I'm running for Congress. We're taking off together again."
About 100 supporters gathered in Garfield Park, where Lauzen and his friends played as children while growing up on Pigeon Hill, to hear him launch his candidacy for representative in the 14th Congressional District.
Lauzen is the third Republican to announce his candidacy for the seat, aiming to replace Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Yorkville, who announced in August that he would not seek a 12th term in office.
Other GOP contenders are Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and Aurora dairy magnate Jim Oberweis.
"When Chris is in Springfield, he says things that might not be very popular, but he says it like it is," said Sen. John Millner, R-Bloomingdale. "He says things that may not be politically correct, but they're correct. No one will work harder for us."
Lauzen said he made -- and kept -- three promises when he announced his run for public office 16 years ago: Work hard, stay honest, and use the same kinds of values citizens do in their families and businesses.
"I've demonstrated that I work for you, not the political potentates and special interests," Lauzen told the crowd. "You don't have to be frustrated about politics -- you need to become involved and change things for the better. American citizens are hungry for honest leadership."
Wednesday morning marked the beginning of a whirlwind tour for Lauzen, who is in the middle of a three-day, eight-county stop along his "Faith, Family, and the Fruits of Freedom" tour.
"I am the only proven, reliable, responsible person running in the 14th Congressional District," said Lauzen, who reminded the crowd that he is unambiguously pro-life, pro-Constitution and anti-tax, which drew thunderous applause.
"Springfield, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., have nothing for me, beyond doing my duty for my family and my country."