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Local

Lauzen eyes congressional run

State Sen. Chris Lauzen R-Aurora is considering a run against former Congressman Bill Foster in Illinois’ newly drawn 11th Congressional District.

In an undated fundraising letter, Lauzen invites supporters to a Summer Night in Chicago on Friday at the Union League Club featuring U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-McHenry.

“Someday, if my neighbors agree, I hope to enter the national debate in Congress,” Lauzen’s fundraising letter states.

“The first requirement is for me to raise $150,000. It’s a gruesome amount of money, but it represents only a down payment against the millions that Foster has already spent and will spend to win.”

A spokesman for Foster’s campaign did not return emails seeking comment.

But Lauzen is also considering a run for chairman of the Kane County Board and will have to decide which office to seek.

“I anticipate making an announcement during the program portion from 6-6:30 p.m. at the Porky Picnic,” Lauzen said, his annual fundraising event from 4-8 p.m. Aug. 13 at Blackberry Farm in Aurora.

“People have been very kind, and some people are saying I should run for congress in the 11th District, my hometown and a portion of DuPage,” Lauzen said. “I served those people for 10 years. When I get down to Plainfield and Joliet, I don’t have the same deep relationships.”

But Lauzen said his first concern is paying off his debt from the primary race in 2008.

His opponent in the Republican primary Jim Oberweis spent $2.5 million. Lauzen’s campaign spent $850,000, but only raised $600,000, leaving him with a $250,000 debt. Lauzen said he has been gradually paying that debt off, getting it down to $135,000.

“No matter what I do in my future, I have to pay back for the past,” Lauzen said. “I’m saying I’m exploring it [a congressional run] but if there is any future opportunity, I have to take care of that past obligation.”

Walsh, who was backed by the Tea Party, has been critical of President Barack Obama and Democrats for government fiscal irresponsibility.

But Walsh now faces charges by his ex-wife, who claims in court papers that he owes $117,000 in back child support. Walsh has called the allegations false.

Lauzen’s letter lauds Walsh’s victory against incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean, saying she had “multi-milions and incumbency while Joe got zero support” from national and state Republican leadership.

Lauzen said the child support issues being raised against Walsh are a “hit piece” by Chicago media.

“He’s been divorced for eight years and been actively trying to resolve that issue,” Lauzen said. “He will continue to resolve the issue in a proper venue.”

State Rep. Randy Ramey, R-West Chicago, who serves as chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party, said Lauzen’s potential candidacy comes as a bit of surprise.

Ramey said he had understood that Lauzen was looking at several possible races to run in, but had been leaning most strongly toward seeking the Kane County Board Chairman post.

However, Ramey said he would not discourage Lauzen from seeking the 11th Congressional District seat.

“I think he’s done a good job in Springfield,” Ramey said. “But because of some of the stances he holds on issues, he’s not been able to get a lot done there (in the Democrat-dominated Illinois General Assembly.)

“But since Republicans control Congress, I think a congressional run would make a good opportunity for him to advance those causes he believes in.”

As for who Lauzen might encounter in a potential GOP primary race in 2012, Ramey  said U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Hinsdale, whose district now includes some of the more heavily Republican areas within the redrawn 11th District, is considering jumping into the race.

But he said he is not aware of any others who are considering a run at this time.

A message left Friday for Will County Republican Central Committee Chairman Dick Kavanagh was not returned.

From 2008-2011, Foster represented Illinois’ current 14th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Foster, a Democrat from Batavia, was defeated in November 2010 by then-State Sen. Randy Hultgren, a Republican from Winfield.

Hultgren continues to represent the district.

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