The race to fill Rep. Dennis Hastert's shoes in the 14th Congressional District will likely have as much to do with money as it will issues. And on that score, two of the eight candidates have pulled ahead of the pack, according to information filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Monday was the deadline for candidates to submit their third quarter fundraising reports, detailing money taken in and paid out between July 1 and Sept. 30. Four Republicans and four Democrats have declared their candidacy for the seat currently held by Hastert, who announced earlier this year that he would not run for a 12th term.
On the Republican side, State Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora has raised the most, with roughly $211,755 coming in through contributions. Lauzen has also loaned his campaign $325,000, putting his campaign coffers at $528,583, counting expenses and funds rolled over from the second quarter.
In explaining his personal investment, Lauzen said that while he hopes the campaign is not about money, he needs to be able to defend himself against "last-minute inaccuracies" that could surface during this race.
Lauzen out-raised his closest Republican competition, Aurora dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, who reported $94,905 in contributions. Oberweis has invested slightly more to his own campaign than Lauzen did, loaning $300,000 and contributing an additional $27,166, bringing his total to $422,071. After expenses, Oberweis has $178,905 on hand, but representatives from his campaign said that a second influx of the candidate's own cash, totaling more than $300,000, is on the way soon.
Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns reported a contribution total of $68,258, but the relatively low amount doesn't worry his campaign manager, Mike Donahue.
"We'll be able to do more with a dollar than the others because we'll back it up with hard work," he said. "No one will outwork this campaign."
Rudy Clai, the North Aurora-based entertainment promoter who threw his hat into the ring earlier this month, filed all zeroes, because he did not start fundraising until after Sept. 30.
Of the four Democrats, former Fermilab scientist Bill Foster of Geneva is the clear front-runner when it comes to fundraising. He pulled in $208,935, with most of those contributions coming from scientists making their first political donations, according to his campaign manager, Tom Bowen.
With a personal contribution of $200,000, Foster's available cash totals $409,702, the most of any Democrat in the race.
Geneva attorney Jotham Stein, the first candidate to declare, raised $99,074, and contributed $40,318 to his own campaign. After expenses, Stein has $60,928 in on-hand cash available.
Yorkville's John Laesch, who ran against Hastert in 2006, reported $45,000 in contributions, saying he is on track to meet his $300,000 fundraising goal.
"The need for this money is an unfortunate, but real, factor in our pay-to-play system," Laesch said. "This is a reason that millionaires, businessmen and lawyers are over-represented in Congress, while the working men and women of our country are under-represented."
Genevan Joe Serra, who recently announced his candidacy for the seat, could not be reached for comment.