Fundraising race between Hultgren, Underwood heats up in Illinois' 14th District

Incumbent Hultgren, seeking a fifth term, still has more money in the bank

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, will face a well-funded opponent in Democrat Lauren Underwood as he makes his bid for a fifth term in the Nov. 6 election.

The race in the 14th Congressional District, which includes part of eastern DeKalb County, including Sycamore, is shaping up to be a multimillion-dollar contest. Although Hultgren still has more cash in his campaign fund, Underwood’s camp is crowing about their recent fundraising edge.

“Our team has shown that the momentum in this race is on our side,” Underwood said in an email. “We’re mounting a serious challenge in the [14th District] and with our dedicated team and grassroots support, we can win and provide the real representation in Washington that our community deserves.”

Hultgren has faced Democratic challengers before, including Jim Walz and Dennis Anderson, but Underwood is the first with legitimate financial backing, Federal Election Commission records show.

Underwood’s first-quarter fundraising was $465,330 to Hultgren’s $360,700, and her second quarter total was $538,090 to Hultgren’s $388,173, according to the FEC. All told, Underwood has raised about $250,000 more in the past two quarters.

Hultgren, however, has about $300,000 more to spend – $1.4 million to Underwood’s $1.1 million in total.

Hultgren’s campaign said he remains the candidate who best represents the people in the district, which also includes communities in DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties..

“When you have Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren and Kamela Harris raising money for your campaign, there can be little doubt whose interests you represent,” Hultgren’s campaign said in an email. “Lauren Underwood’s values fit in better with people like Rosie O’Donnell and ultraliberal activists from California and New York than with the people of the 14th District.”

Underwood’s campaign countered, stating she received more than 30,000 individual contributions in the second quarter, most of them less than $100, according to a statement.

“Ours is a people-powered campaign, and I’m so thankful to everyone who has stepped up to join our team,” Underwood said in a news release.

A Naperville resident, Underwood is a registered nurse and health policy expert. She challenged Hultgren after he voted for the American Health Care Act, Underwood said at a primary candidate forum in February.

“I’m running for Congress to ensure affordable health care, quality education and a strong local economy for northern Illinois families,” Underwood said in a news release. “The outpouring of support for our campaign shows the 14th District is ready for real representation in Washington.”

Underwood is supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. According to its website, dccc.org, the committee is seeking to flip four Republican seats – and one of them currently belongs to Hultgren.

Hultgren’s campaign’s fundraising emails have been sounding the alarm about Underwood’s candidacy, stating, “I need your help” and “This election season is going to be a tough one.”

“The Democrats are in a fundraising frenzy as they work to take back the House majority – and they have singled out our district as a top target,” an April 29 Hultgren email said.

“The Democrats and their liberal media allies have targeted our campaign and believe that our district is ready to turn blue,” an April 30 Hultgren email said.

“The liberal elite are desperate to win the House majority and they believe our district is ready to flip,” a Hulgren email said June 27. “Most of the donations she has received are from people outside of Illinois, people who have no vested interest in the daily lives of our constituents, and who only want a Democrat in office at any cost.”

According to the Federal Election Commission, both Underwood’s and Hultgren’s campaigns received donations from outside the district.

Hultgren received $2,000 from Lucas For Congress in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; $2,000 from Quicken Loans Inc. PAC in Lansing, Michigan; $1,000 from Semper Fi PAC, based in Washington, D.C.; and $1,000 from Texans for Lamar Smith, San Antonio, Texas, records show.

Underwood received $1,000 from USA PAC – United for a Strong America in Los Angeles; $1,000 from Fair Shot PAC in Malden, Maine; $10,000 from Emily’s List, based in Washington, D.C.; and $1,010 from Women Count PAC in San Francisco, records show.

Both Underwood and Hultgren also received donations from district residents.

For Underwood, these included $350 from Cheryl Rabchuk of St. Charles; $220 from Lynn Rudberg of Batavia; $350 from David Bald of Geneva; $500 from Rhonda Robinson of Geneva, $300 from Stephen Platt of Crystal Lake, records show.

For Hultgren, these included $3,851 from John Bryan of Sugar Grove; $2,700 from David Howland of Wayne; $1,000 from Jay Behnke of Marengo; $2,700 from Carrie Berg of Wheaton; and $250 from David Krahn of Oswego.

“We’re proud that so many leaders, small-business owners and neighbors continue to invest in Randy’s campaign,” according to an email from Hultgren’s campaign. “Randy has been a strong and effective voice for the people of Illinois and we are confident that when given the opportunity to hire Randy for another term, the voters will choose Randy’s proven leadership and record over someone who would fit in better with her donors in California.”

Hultgren’s campaign did not respond to emails asking if the incumbent would debate with Underwood. Hultgren has not debated his Democratic opponents in the past.

Underwood’s campaign spokeswoman Andra Belknap said she would debate Hultgren.

“Our campaign has been in touch with numerous community groups that are working to organize debates,” Belknap said in an email. “Lauren Underwood is ready to debate, and she looks forward to doing so.”

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