Flanked by his wife and son at a park in his hometown, state Sen. Chris Lauzen launched his bid for the 14th Congressional District seat Wednesday.
The Aurora Republican described himself as a "pro-life," "pro-traditional family," and "anti-tax" conservative who will remain independent from lobbyists.
Lauzen talked about growing up in Aurora, where he said he learned the importance of working hard and taking care of family.
"Sixteen years ago when I first ran for office … I made just three promises. I promised you that I would work hard, stay honest and use the same kind of common sense that you do in your families and your businesses," Lauzen said. "And I've kept those commitments."
He praised his supporters for providing the backbone of his grassroots campaign.
"I have not been the candidate who's had a lot of money," Lauzen said. "I work for you -- not special interests."
He then left for a three-day, 24-stop tour of the expansive district; today's scheduled stops include Lee, Bureau, Whiteside and Henry counties in the district's western area.
The 54-year-old, who represents the 25th District, is one of three Republicans and two Democrats vying to replace Dennis Hastert, the former House speaker who announced his retirement plans last month. Shortly thereafter Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns took a similar district tour and dairy magnate Jim Oberweis officially threw his hat in the ring.
Lauzen was elected to the state Senate in 1992 and ran unsuccessfully for state comptroller in 1998.
State Sen. John Millner, a St. Charles Republican who represents the 28th District, said Lauzen isn't afraid to speak his mind.
"Chris is somebody who will say things that may not be politically correct, but they're correct," Millner said.
Hastert has not said whether he will serve out the remainder of the 11th term he won in November. An early retirement before May would set off a special election where voters would cast ballots in primary and general elections in short order. The early Feb. 5 primary could set up a complex campaign and electoral situation.
Hastert said he doesn't plan on endorsing his successor until at least November.
Geneva scientist Bill Foster, St. Charles attorney Jotham Stein and former Hastert challenger John Laesch of rural Kendall County will battle on the Democratic side.
The primary is Feb. 5.