Roskam to vie for Hyde seat
GOP Senate whip has 3 opponents so far
By John Biemer
Tribune staff reporter
May 17, 2005
Peter Roskam, the state Senate's Republican whip, officially entered the race Monday to succeed longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde in the 6th Congressional District and picked up the endorsement of an influential Republican leader: DuPage GOP Chairman Kirk Dillard.
Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale, described Roskam of Wheaton as the best candidate to ensure that the seat remains in the hands of a Republican.
"He clearly has the greatest legislative experience, the largest volunteer base, he's a known fundraiser and, most importantly, he's the most qualified person to step into the gigantic shoes of Henry Hyde," said Dillard, who was not at the event.
"I'm well aware that ... there is no one who will fill [Hyde's] shoes. My goal is to walk in his shadow," Roskam, 43, said in launching his bid, surrounded by family in a Glen Ellyn recreational-center gym with more than 150 supporters.
"I'm a conservative, and I don't run from that label," Roskam said, listing priorities that include tax restraint, a strong national defense, local control over education and opposition to abortion, except when the mother's life is endangered.
Roskam, who spent the last four weeks exploring a bid, joins one other announced candidate in the Republican field: former DuPage County Recorder J.P. "Rick" Carney.
State Sen. Carole Pankau (R-Roselle) and former state Rep. Tom Johnson (R-West Chicago) have expressed interest in the office.
Two Democrats also are running: Christine Cegelis of Rolling Meadows, who heads an informational technology consulting firm, and attorney Peter O'Malley of Wheaton.
Cegelis took 44 percent of the vote last fall against Hyde, who is retiring at the end of this two-year term. That was the best showing for a Democrat against Hyde in more than three decades and it fueled Democrats' hopes that they could claim the seat in what they say is a changing district.
But Roskam dismissed concerns Monday that he is too conservative for the district and expressed confidence that voters will respond to him because he has been consistent in his 12 years in the General Assembly.
"You don't beat Democrats by assimilating their views and becoming Democrats," he said. Roskam, an attorney, described last year's election cycle as "a little bit of an aberration, with the U.S. Senate campaign the way it was and President Bush's decision not to spend any money in Illinois."
But Carney said GOP margins of victory have consistently narrowed over the two decades he served in countywide office. "That's a fact and there's no anomaly about it," he said.
"I don't think an ultra-conservative will represent the 6th District," said Carney, who said key issues in his campaign include guaranteeing Social Security and improving access to medical insurance. "I think my views are more closely associated with the people of this district."
The district encompasses much of northeastern DuPage County, west to Wheaton and north into parts of Cook County.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune
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