GOP Must Apply Discernment when Nominating Challenger to Bill Foster in the 11th District

Written by John Lopez

Editor’s note:  Originally published on February 16, an additional candidate filing and other news in this race prompted the revision of this article.  Edited March 26 reflects the candidates who actually filed nominating petitions with the State Board of Elections. Edited April 3 upon the withdrawal of Juan “Johnny” Ramos on April 1.

The fight for control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022 includes battleground districts in the state of Illinois.  According to the two major rating services for U.S. House races, Cook Political Report with Amy Walter and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, five of Illinois’ 17 congressional districts are considered in-play, by virtue of not being rated “strong/safe Democrat” or “strong/safe Republican”.

In order of competitiveness, based on consistent initial ratings by Cook and Sabato, the districts are:

  • IL-17 (“toss-up”): The open seat currently held by retiring Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D)
  • IL-13 (“leans Democrat”): The newly created seat, currently held by Congressman Rodney Davis (R), who’s seeking reelection in IL-15
  • IL-14 (“leans Democrat”):  Redrawn seat of two-term Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D)
  • IL-06 (“leans Democrat”): Redrawn seat of two-term Congressman Sean Casten (D) and drawing IL-03 Congresswoman Marie Newman to seek reelection to a 2nd term due to her current district being redrawn as a 2nd Hispanic district in Illinois
  • IL-11 (“likely Democrat”): Redrawn seat of 7-term Congressman Bill Foster (D)

Bill Foster

While the initial ratings for IL-11 set the Foster seat as the least competitive at the beginning of 2022 of the five competitive seats in Illinois, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) added Foster to its list of vulnerable incumbents for 2022 on January 27, naming Foster a “Frontliner”.

The DCCC Frontliner designation added Foster to their Frontliner page, which included his bio and the following language why Foster was added:

“Due to 2020 redistricting Bill’s IL-11 lost 55% of its constituents, became much more rural, and is once again a top target for Republicans.”

The DCCC also included the hint of whom the DCCC wants to see win the Republican primary election on June 28, and the DCCC’s preference is very clear.

Six Republicans filed petitions March 7-14 for the honor to challenge Foster in the fall, and all but one filed a Statement of Candidacy for 2022 with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  The Republicans, in order of FEC filing, are:

  • Catalina Lauf, 28 of Woodstock
  • Cassandra Tanner Miller, 35 of Elgin
  • Jerry Evans, 38 of Warrenville
  • Andrea Heeg, 55 of unincorporated Geneva
  • Mark Carroll, 47 of North Aurora
  • Susan Hathaway-Altman, age unknown, of unincorporated Geneva (no FEC filing)

Brief capsule, with discernment, of the candidates, in alphabetical order:

Mark Carroll

Mark Carroll, the only elected official among Republicans

Late Tuesday, February 15, North Aurora Village Trustee Mark J. Carroll filed his Statement of Candidacy with the FEC.

The married father of three is an attorney.

Carroll is the first elected official seeking the Republican nomination for Congress in the 11th Congressional District.

Carroll was appointed to the North Aurora Village Board as a trustee in late May of 2014 and was elected to the village board in 2015.  Carroll won a 2nd elected term in 2019.

Prior to his appointment as trustee, Carroll served as a member of the North Aurora Plan Commission for 5 years.

Jerry Evans

Jerry Evans, the unapologetic Christian candidate

Jerry Evans ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary in 2020 in the 14th Congressional District, as part of a 7-person field, won by then-state Senator Jim Oberweis.  Evans came in 6th place out of 7th and believes he’s ready for a more successful campaign in 2022 in the new 11th District.

On February 10, Evans announced he had been endorsed by former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Thomas.

“I am endorsing Jerry Evans for US Congress.  Jerry Evans is a committed husband, father, teacher, and businessman.  He is a man of integrity, service, and hard work.  He is a committed Christian with conservative values.

“After sitting down with Jerry and taking the time to ask him the tough questions, I am convinced he would represent conservative, pro-life, and pro-family values in the halls of Congress.

“Jerry has done the hard work of garnering support that has positioned him well to win a Republican Primary, and he has the message and skills to reach independents and swing voters to prevail in the 2022 General Election.”

In his 2020 primary run, Evans was known for his thoroughness to write position papers on policy, including human trafficking and the price of prescription drugs.

Evans, a Wheaton College graduate, runs a successful music school in his name in Wheaton.  He’s married and the father of two young sons.

Susan Hathaway-Altman

Susan Hathaway-Altman, the surprise candidate filing

On Monday, March 14, Susan Hathaway-Altman of unincorporated Geneva filed to run in the 11th Congressional District.

Hathaway-Altman had not filed her FEC Statement of Candidacy prior to filing her petitions.

On Friday March 11, Hathaway-Altman made an appeal for support from her campaign’s Facebook page:

“Hi everyone!

“I am running for US Congress for the 11th District of Illinois in the Republican party, and I would like to be your representative in the US House.

“I am bringing forward the issues, concerns, and ideas of the great people of the 11th District of Illinois.

“My main focus is to provide access to me and others in the district through a strong communication platform so that everyone in the 11th District can express their opinions and what is most important to them in their daily lives.

“This would include issues such as: Education, Healthcare, Taxation, Jobs, and Social Equity.

“I plan to create a ZOOM video call each month whereby citizens of the 11th district can voice their thoughts and opinions. I will take those thoughts and opinions to the House and fight hard for what the 11th District wants.

“Thank you for placing your trust in me.

“God bless America!”

The coming campaign will give voters more time to learn about Hathaway-Altman’s candidacy.

Andrea Heeg

Andrea Heeg, the populist “America First” candidate

Heeg filed with the FEC in mid-January.  The married mother of four children, Heeg presents herself as a “populist” and touts “America First”, though at this early stage, it’s not clear which version of “America First” she supports.

Heeg lives in the Mill Creek Subdivision of unincorporated Geneva in Blackberry Township of Kane County.  Before living in Mill Creek, Heeg lived in Aurora.

In a video from the June 2021, meeting of Amplify DuPage, Heeg introduced herself and stated, at that time, she wanted to challenge Congresswoman Lauren Underwood.  With the congressional remap, Heeg was drawn into IL-11, where she filed to run.

At the June Amplify DuPage meeting, she also shared with the audience she had discussed running for Congress and spoke to an adviser for Jeanne Ives’ unsuccessful 2020 campaign in the IL-06.

Heeg’s reaction a congressional race in Illinois required a minimum of $3 million, saying Ives’ former adviser was “full of it” revealed Heeg as a populist.

Given Foster, according to FEC campaign disclosure reports, had over $4 million cash-on-hand, the $3 million minimum to flip IL-11 to Republican proved real and justified.

Catalina Lauf

Catalina Lauf, the Republican the Democrats want to face in November of 2022

When the DCCC announced Foster as a vulnerable incumbent on January 27, the DCCC implied the following about Lauf, without using her name:

“…including one who served in the Trump Administration and has raised over $1M, by dubbing herself the ‘Anti-AOC’.”

Lauf of Woodstock, like Jerry Evans, also ran in the 7-person IL-14 Republican primary field in 2020 and lost to Jim Oberweis.  Lauf finished 3rd breaking the 20% of the primary vote barrier where Oberweis won with a plurality of the vote of just under 26%.

Lauf’s political resume’ includes working for 8 months, from late 2018 through mid-2019, in the U.S. Department of Commerce, as a special advisor.

Lauf’s first work experience in politics took place during the 2018 election cycle, when Lauf worked for the Citizens for Rauner campaign to help reelect then-Governor Bruce Rauner (R) first to defeat then-state Representative Jeanne Ives (R) in the primary, which Lauf helped accomplish.  Lauf stayed with Citizens for Rauner through the end of the general election campaign in mid-November of 2018.

The Democrats clearly want to face Lauf in the fall of 2022 because of her work experience, the Democrats can use the double-barrel shotgun against her:  Rauner and former President Donald Trump

Initial critiques of the Republican primary field for governor by the Democrats subject the Republicans with both Rauner and Trump demonized.  A congressional nominee with previous full-time employment with both Rauner’s reelection campaign and Trump’s Commerce Department benefits Foster.

While Lauf may be the Democrats’ preference in 2022, Republican primary voters in the 11th District have the ultimate say.

Currently, Lauf’s taken as the early frontrunner of the Republican primary field.  Given Lauf’s close alignment with the “America First” movement of former President Trump, plus being endorsed by Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R, NC-11), U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) and Congressman Burgess Owens (R, UT-04), the early frontrunner status, even a nominal one, rings true.

In February of 2021, Lauf launched a campaign against Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R) over his impeachment vote against President Trump on January 13 of last year.  When redistricting forced Kinzinger from seeking reelection to the House on October 29, Lauf entered the 11th District race on December 6, as her parents’ home where she lives was drawn into the 11th.

Prior to working for the Rauner campaign in 2018, she worked for a year for Uber Chicago, in partnerships and community affairs.  Since the 2020 Republican primary campaign, Lauf has worked with family-owned businesses of her father, and since the start of 2021, as an advisor to her sister’s San Francisco-based start-up.

Cassandra Tanner Miller

Cassandra Tanner Miller (CTM), the domestic abuse survivor and establishment’s candidate against Lauf and Foster

When CTM filed her FEC Statement of Candidacy on January 18, various sources confirmed the recruitment of her candidacy to prevent the hard-core Trumpian Lauf from being the nominee, and upend any prospect to flip IL-11 in the fall.

The sources confirmed the assessment prior to the DCCC implication of preferring Lauf as the Republican nominee on January 27.

The brutal killing of CTM’s 18-month-old son Colton at the hands of her estranged husband at their Joliet (Kendall County) home plus the physical beating she survived laid the groundworks for the passage of Colton’s Law in 2021.  The law, passed unanimously in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, was signed into law last August.

CTM’s experiences, proving she can help pass meaningful legislation as a private citizen amplified many within the Republican Party establishment, she would not only be a candidate who can win against Lauf in the primary, but a candidate Foster and the Democrats feared.

Early indications by sources within Democratic circles, both in Illinois and Washington, confirm this assessment.

CTM moved to Kane County in 2020, and last August, remarried.  CTM and her husband are expecting their first child together, a son, whose due date is within three weeks of the Republican primary in June.

John Lopez has written about policy and elections through the McHenry County Blog since 2019. He is now semi-retired, and does freelance work with analytics, as well as political candidates, emphasizing policy as the means to advance the conservative message, by engaging through policy “dog fighting”, applying discernment for winning and advancing God’s Kingdom agenda.

John’s known for getting past the talking points, the narratives, the abstracts, the platitudes and the bromides in order to discuss policy and apply Scripture to overcome unholy divisions in the local community, our state, and nation.

John has been married for over 16 years.