Applied Discernment of 11th Congressional District GOP Primary Shows 2 or 3-Person Race

Written by John Lopez

Bill Foster

As originally published in late February, the Illinois 11th Congressional District Republican primary election presents the Republican Party with a solid chance to flip the U.S. House seat currently held by Congressman Bill Foster (D, Naperville).

Here on Illinois Family Action, discernment was stressed to be applied to the six Republican men and women who filed in IL-11.

The candidates include:

  • Mark Carroll, 48, North Aurora
  • Jerry Evans, 38, Warrenville
  • Andrea Heeg, 55, unincorporated Geneva
  • Catalina Lauf, 29, Woodstock
  • Susan Hathaway-Altman, 55, unincorporated Geneva
  • Cassandra Tanner Miller, 35, Elgin

The 11th District includes portions of 8 counties, as shown on the map above.

As the race stands right now at the end of April, Lauf is the nominal frontrunner, per the rankings:

  1. Catalina Lauf — lead over #2 very small, and had surprisingly weak 1st quarter fundraising with questionable spending
  2. Jerry Evans — the surging candidate and as of end of April, is positioned well to overtake Lauf and win the primary
  3. Mark Carroll — impressive first interview on 4/11, and his experience dating back to working on Congressman Henry Hyde’s House Judiciary Committee in the mid 1990s reminds conservatives of the “old way” of doing things in Congress
  4. Cassandra Tanner Miller — fading fast, as her FEC filing shows, as her campaign at end of March is under water and in debt
  5. Susan Hathaway-Altman — The surprise petition filer last month, and only filed with the FEC in April, while she has no FEC fundraising to date, she has shown a semblance of a campaign with literature and speaking at events.
  6. Andrea Heeg — for someone who declared her candidacy in late January, in two months, did not raise or spend $5K which exempted her from filing a campaign disclosure report with the FEC, going nowhere.

To-date, none of the national committees or super PACs have purchased TV advertising time in the “Likely Democrat” rated 11th District. Media buys for the fall can change at any time, but thus far, the national focus backed up with outside campaign spending in Illinois is in the 17th District.

Immediate dates to watch for in the 11th District primary include the following:

  • By May 16, candidate must file their Financial Disclosure statements with the U.S. House clerk in compliance with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, with only limited ability to file an extension given the date of the primary
  • May 19, first day vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots will hit-the-street for voting by mail.  The 8 local election authorities began accepting applications for VBM ballots in late March
  • June 16, candidates must file their pre-primary campaign disclosure reports with the FEC which will reflect campaign fundraising and spending from April 1 through June 8.

With balloting beginning on May 19, the candidates should have had at least two mailers and 1 to 2 TV commercials published by then.

These rankings will likely change as additional information is published, or the candidates reach out to voters through grassroots campaigning, mailers and TV commercial advertising.

Lauf 4×4 sign outside Woodstock Harley-Davidson

#1: Catalina Lauf of Woodstock, the barely nominal frontrunner after weaker than expected fundraising and average interview

Lauf’s cash receipts for first quarter of 2022 being disappointing is an understatement.  None of her current primary opponents had even declared their candidacies until mid-to-late January.

Lauf had the opportunity to put the primary race away with a strong quarter of fundraising, but raised less than $200K in the first 90 days of 2022.

Lauf’s cash receipts/disbursements (excluding in-kind) for Q1 are:

  • Receipts: $153,844.12 (excluding a $2,300 in-kind)
  • Expenses: $261,579.26
  • Cash-on-hand: $148,241.26
  • Quarterly cash burn rate: 170%

With Lauf’s entry into the IL-16 primary in late February of 2021, she got a lot of attention given Congressman Adam Kinzinger’s (R, Channahon) hostility to President Trump in early January of last year which continues to this day.

Clearly, no longer running against Kinzinger has hurt Lauf’s fundraising, and the self-described lover of start-ups did not adapt her campaign, which included:

  • Paying her two main, local consultants $13K EACH for the 1st quarter. The consultants making $4,333.33/month are:
    • Nick Grigoletti of Woodstock, who relocated from Chicago last year and left the Lauf campaign at the end of March
    • Joselin Rivera of Harvard who first started working for Lauf’s campaign late last year
  • Continued consulting through controversial vendor X Strategies, LLC, co-owned by Alex Bruesewitz for $7,500 for the quarter
  • Questionable political contributions to non IL-11 and out-of-state campaigns, which Lauf could have/should have contributed through her Defense of Freedom PAC which finished he 1st quarter with over $20K cash:
    • Jed Davis (R, IL House 75) received $500
    • Orland Park Village President Keith Pekau (R, IL-06) for $150
    • Matthew Rauschert (R, IL House 71) received $500

Lauf’s campaign also donated $1,500 to Project Canvas of Aurora, a 501(c)(3) organization with a noble mission, but Lauf, like with the political contributions, could have donated through her Defense of Freedom PAC and helped her campaign save money. The disbursements can be viewed here.

Lauf’s interview with Freedom Illinois’ Chrissi Bretz on April 12 was not her best interview.  Lauf continued showing she cannot tell the truth when she told Bretz she worked 5 years in the private sector before going to the Trump White House.

The truth, after graduating from Miami of Ohio at the end of 2013, she worked for 4 years in the private sector, but the only private sector employer known is her 2016-2017 employment by Uber of Chicago.

Her 5th year post-college was her 10-month employment as a field director for then-Governor Bruce Rauner‘s reelection campaign at the beginning of 2018 and lasting through mid-November.

Lauf’s interview with Bretz on April 12 also brought up her lack of life experiences (military service, marriage, parenthood, business career in her own name, lack of real property ownership in her name) as well as living with her parents at their Woodstock home.

While Lauf defending her lack of marriage and parenthood admirably, accurately pointing out she will not be rushed into such important life-changing events, she attempted to defend the living with her parents pointing out she was not living at her parents’ home, but in a property owned by her parents.

Jerry Evans

#2: Jerry Evans of Warrenville

Jerry Evans is surging, as his FEC quarterlies and his local endorsements would indicate.

Evans formally launched his campaign on January 26, and reported the following for the period January 26 through March 31, in cash:

  • Cash receipts: $112,782 ($394.20 in-kinds excluded)
  • Cash expenses: $28,975.04
  • Cash-on-hand: $83,806.96 ($23,200 cannot be spent in primary)
  • Burn rate: 25.7%

Evans, in 65 days, accomplished the metrics from above. His campaign’s burn rate was kept low due to prudent spending for campaign consulting, which totaled less than $10K for the reporting period, and includes a general consultant and his campaign manager, the latter from Oak Brook.

Evans’ notable campaign contributors include the following:

  • James Economos, D.D.S., $1,000
  • Major (ret.) Michael Pierce, $2,000 (Pierce explored a bid for IL-11 last year)
  • Former Illinois Supreme Court Justice S. Louis Rathje, $1,000
  • Former Circuit Judge Robert Spence of Batavia, $500
  • Former U.S. Senate candidate (2020) Tom Tarter, $1,000
  • Former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas, $1,000

Evans has definitely grown and improved as a candidate in the two years since the 2020 primary.

The COVID pandemic response by Evans as a small business owner was explored thoroughly during his interview with Chrissi Bretz of Illinois Freedom on April 13, including his experience to keep the staff of his music school employed, and offering students and their families the option of virtual lessons.

Evans, in 2022, continues to display growth, including the open and public endorsement of former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Thomas.  The April 6 endorsement by former state Representative Jeanne Ives (R, Wheaton) factored minimally into Evans’ 1st quarter fundraising.

Evans has been making media appearances on Newsmax and Fox News, which was something not seen in his 2020 race.

#3: Mark Carroll of North Aurora

Mark Carroll

North Aurora Village Trustee Mark Carroll, 48, ranked #3, primarily from his interview with Chrissi Bretz on April 11.

Carroll remains unknown by many in the 11th District, while being the only elected official among all six candidates, having served as a North Aurora village trustee since May of 2014, and has won two elected terms since his initial appointment.

In addition to being a village trustee, Carroll served for 5 years on the North Aurora Plan Commission.

Carroll is an attorney with 20 years of experience, with the past five years as a back office transactional attorney.

Included in his resume’ is Washington D.C. experience working for the House Judiciary Committee during the time of Congressman Henry Hyde’s chairmanship in the mid to late 1990s.

Carroll’s work in DC makes him the only candidate apart from Lauf with work experience in Washington, though it was over 25 years ago.

The married father of 3 sons, oldest being 18, had campaign staffing issues early in his campaign, which all indications show has been corrected.

Carroll had a solid interview with Chrissi Bretz recently, and his responses reflected a thoughtful approach to all of the issues while showing his conservatism, with a proven record as an elected official to back up his positions.

Carroll published on April 15 his detailed campaign platform, which will generate discussion as his campaign message theme is “Restore America: Experience Matters“.

Carroll’s biggest opportunity for his candidacy, and it will make or break him, is his fundraising. Carroll entered the race in mid-February, and his campaign disclosure to the FEC showed it, through his cash receipts and expenditures:

  • Cash Receipts: $17,239 (excludes a $1,126.39 in-kind contribution)
  • Cash Expenses: $14,061.25
  • Cash-on-Hand: $3,177.75
  • Burn Rate: 81.6%

Local leaders, while liking what they hear from his messaging, will be cautious of Carroll’s campaign unless he can show, very quickly he can raise the money to get his message out in mailings and TV advertising.

Cassandra Tanner Miller

#4: Cassandra Tanner Miller of Elgin

Cassandra Tanner Miller’s, also known as “CTM”, campaign is in freefall, and her campaign’s filing of her FEC campaign disclosure report for the 1st quarter proved what had long been suspected of her campaign is in disarray.

Discerning voters must remember, CTM was seen as the establishment’s choice to face Congressman Bill Foster (D, Naperville) in the fall.

She’ll be fortunate to stay in the race.

Her cash numbers, and she had no in-kinds, are:

  • Cash receipts: $2,525
  • Cash expenses: $599.52
  • Cash-on-hand: $1,925.48
  • Unpaid debts: $48,302.18

The tragic story of CTM’s son’s passing is well known, and her diligent work to pass “Colton’s Law” with unanimous support in the Illinois General Assembly in 2021 proved she can get major legislation passed, while not serving in an elected body.  Additionally, CTM began her Colton’s Legacy foundation, which will be documented with metrics on her Financial Disclosure statement by mid-May.

None of her story has resonated or gained traction with Republican primary voters and especially with campaign donors, and her numbers reflect this.

The unpaid debts listed represent amounts owed to vendors through March 31 which had not been paid.


At the end of April, three Republican candidates have emerged who can possibly win the 11th Congressional District primary. Voters must continue applying discernment and evaluating the viable candidates, with early voting beginning May 19.

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.