Roskam pledges to keep conservatism in Washington
By Katie Foutz
State Sen. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, said Monday that while no one can fill conservative U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde's shoes, he plans to "walk in his shadow" and into Congress.
Roskam told a crowd of more than 130 supporters at a Glen Ellyn recreational center that he plans to run for the 6th Congressional District seat Hyde is leaving in 2006 — and he's running with the endorsement of the DuPage County Republican Party chairman, state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.
"Peter is our best hope of keeping this seat in Republican hands," Dillard said in a statement. He was at another function Monday and could not attend Roskam's campaign kickoff, Roskam said.
The 6th Congressional District includes much of DuPage County, including part of Naperville's 60566 ZIP code, and part of northwestern Cook County. Both parties now have primaries set for the seat in a district where Republican Alan Keyes lost the U.S. Senate race by a landslide and some Republicans won county offices by slim margins in November.
Roskam called the last election "an aberration."
"This is the district that sent Henry Hyde to Congress for 32 years," he said. "That is not ambiguous."
Roskam has served in the Illinois General Assembly for 12 years; and in the Senate, he is the Republican whip and floor leader. He said that while working on Hyde's Washington, D.C., staff in the 1980s, he learned Hyde works with others while letting people know where he stands.
"The problem with Alan Keyes was his delivery and his message was so harsh," Roskam said. "I'm the Senate whip. I deal with people who disagree with me on a daily basis."
He will find opposite of him on the primary ballot: fellow Wheaton Republican and former DuPage County Recorder J.P. "Rick" Carney. They split along conservative-moderate lines, especially on abortion. Roskam said he opposes abortion except for the health of the mother, but Carney said he supports abortion rights except for late-term abortions.
On transportation issues, both said the most important is fighting O'Hare International Airport expansion in favor of building an airport in south suburban Peotone.
Carney was surprised by Dillard's endorsement but said that when he ran for recorder for the first time, neither the county party chairman nor the party chairmen from the nine DuPage townships endorsed him.
"And yet I won," he said. He held the seat for 20 years until he retired in 2004.
Local elected officials and at least two hopefuls for other offices were present for Roskam's announcement. State Rep. Randall Hultgren, R-Wheaton, said he is meeting with advisers this week about running for Roskam's Senate seat.
"I am still very interested in running," Hultgren said, adding that his priorities are getting Roskam elected to Congress and finishing work for this session in the Illinois General Assembly.
DuPage County Board member Debra Olson, R-Wheaton, declined to comment on her own intentions Monday, though she has expressed interest in seeking Hultgren's seat if he runs for Senate.
"Until Representative Hultgren makes any decision, I will not be commenting," she said.
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