Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Insiders like Roskam's chances of grabbing seat

Insiders like Roskam's chances of grabbing seat

April 19, 2005

BY SCOTT FORNEK Political Reporter

Look for a stampede of Republicans to succeed Rep. Henry Hyde -- but when the dust clears, most political insiders expect state Sen. Peter Roskam to be in the lead. "I see Roskam walking into this," one DuPage Republican said.

Others were a bit more measured, but all see Roskam as the one to watch now that Hyde has announced he will not seek a 16th term in the west suburban 6th Congressional District.

"Now that state Sen. Dan Cronin has withdrawn his name as a possible successor to Congressman Hyde, state Sen. Peter Roskam would appear to be the front-runner," said DuPage County Chairman Kirk Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale.

"He has name recognition. He's a legislator and has experience and knows how to campaign. . . . He has run for Congress before."

Roskam, 43, a lawyer from Wheaton, ran for the neighboring 13th Congressional District seat in 1998 after Rep. Harris Fawell announced his retirement.

No interest from Birkett

Other names include state Sen. Carole Pankau (R-Roselle), 57; former state Rep. Tom Johnson of West Chicago, 59; DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, 50; and former DuPage County Recorder of Deeds J.P. Carney, 58.

Birkett spokesman Dan Curry said the prosecutor is focusing on a possible run for governor and has no interest in Congress, despite speculation.

"That's just somebody trying to cause mischief, wishful thinking by someone who wants him out of the governor's race," Curry said.

But Carney, 58, is ready to go, pledging to pump as much as $500,000 of his own money into the race if he needs to.

"I've hired consultants from Washington," Carney said. "I've got 10 fund-raisers planned. . . . The race is going to come down to money."

Dems: It's a 'swing district'

State Republican Chairman Andy McKenna Jr. showered praise on Roskam but stopped short of an endorsement. "As party chairman, I've certainly got to be open to the process, but I think he would be a very strong nominee."

Roskam declined to comment until Hyde's retirement is official.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, a Northwest Side Democrat and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Hyde's retirement makes the 6th "a swing district."

"People are voting for change," Emanuel said, pointing to all the suburban mayors ousted in the April 5 election.

Democrat Christine Cegelis, 52, won 44 percent against Hyde last year and is making another run. But the Rolling Meadows insurance agent has had lackluster success at fund-raising, taking in just $44,263 in the first three months of the year.

"It is very early days for raising money in a congressional race," Cegelis said, dismissing concerns that Democratic leaders will try to push her aside.

Contributing: Lynn Sweet

Copyright © The Sun-Times Company

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