Catalina Lauf Abandons “Pro-Life Conservative” and Second Amendment Planks

Yes, I called IL-11 Republican nominee Catalina Lauf a “phony” on national radio and here’s why

by John Lopez

On September 11, 2022, I phoned in to Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont, which is broadcast live across the country Sunday nights from Salem Media Group’s studios in Elk Grove Village.  Three Republican guests were talking about Donald Trump’s influence on Republican Party politics. In particular, DuMont and three guests were talking about Hispanic voters. That’s fine, but none of the four on Beyond the Beltway were Hispanic.  My call was to give an Hispanic voter’s views, given my Mexican heritage from both my father and mother.

I pointed out how President Trump had inspired outstanding Hispanic congressional candidates, but that there were also some “Trump wanna bes” who are phonies. Host DuMont asked me about phonies, and I pointed to Illinois. DuMont asked me for a name, and I responded with IL-11 Republican nominee Catalina Lauf (R-Woodstock). Lauf is challenging IL-11 Congressman Bill Foster (D-Naperville) on November 8.

This article will not only discuss why I called Republican Lauf a phony, but I will do this in the context of multiple congressional races in Illinois, how candidates stood by the conservative principles which helped them win the primary, and point out Lauf’s descent back into the issues published here on Illinois Family Action in late June, before the Illinois Republican primary.

The relevant portion where I called Lauf out is cued and can be viewed here.

The full context of my call can be viewed here. 

Lauf’s September 8 Campaign Website Update and Removal of YouTube Videos

In a July article, Illinois Family Action shared a screenshot of Lauf’s pro-life stance accessed directly from her campaign’s website:

From Catalina for Congress website accessed 7/17/22

After the primary election was over, Catalina Lauf’s website completely removed this platform plank from her website.

Regarding the Second Amendment, Lauf had this information under the Individual Liberties plank of her primary platform, referenced as “2A”:

Lauf Individual Liberties Platform with 2nd Amendment, accessed through Web Archive 9/21/22

On Sept. 8, the Individual Liberties plank page was revised without any reference to the “2A”:

Lauf Individual Liberties from Issues page accessed 9/21/22

Since Lauf’s first bid for Congress in 2020 in the old IL-14 district, she has not been hesitant sharing her passion for firearms in social media, including sharing her Thanksgiving family tradition at her parents’ Woodstock property, or having her picture taken with a long gun.

Yet in preparing for her general election showdown with Congressman Foster, Lauf not only failed to submit her Illinois Family Institute survey for publication as other races were published September 21, she also failed to submit her responses to the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF):

Tweeted 11/26/19

Back in 2019, Lauf launched her first bid for Congress.  She vocally opposed the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, citing the “boyfriend loophole” as her reason for the opposition.  Lauf even retweeted herself branding a handgun with then-congressional candidate Lisa Song Sutton (R-Las Vegas), calling it the “greatest form of female empowerment.”

Yet on Sept. 8, a mere 3 months after winning her primary in IL-11, Lauf scrubbed the Second Amendment plank from her website that she had run on so heavily in both of her primary races.  And Capitol Fax documented Lauf’s stripping abortion language from her campaign website, with Rich Miller pointing out:

“Scrubbing campaign sites of all references to anti-abortion stances has lately been something of a national trend.”

Not only that, but six Lauf videos have been deleted on-line — from YouTube, media interviews, and a 2020 primary debate.  All of these videos had trumpeted Lauf’s conservative Second Amendment and Right-to-Life credentials.  Per reliable sources, her campaign team is led by Derek Murphy, former executive director of the IL GOP and senior campaign advisor to moderate gubernatorial wannabe Richard Irvin. Murphy appears to be following the example of Irvin’s failed 2022 primary campaign for governor and rewriting history.

As far as the national trend that Capitol Fax mentioned? Let’s look at the three most competitive U.S. House races in Illinois — the top-tier race in IL-17, and the two 2nd-tier races, IL-06 and IL-13. (The other targeted House races are 3rd tier — IL-11, along with IL-08 and IL-14). But before addressing the comparison, here is Lauf’s opponent, Congressman Bill Foster, advertising his abortion and 2nd Amendment record:


First tweeted June 7, 2022

Bill Foster Pro-Abortion-on-Demand meme tweeted 9/21/22


Keith Pekau (IL-06) & Regan Deering (IL-13) Submitted Illinois Family Institute Responses while Esther Joy King (IL-17) Keeps Pro-Life & 2nd Amendment Planks

Regan Deering

Keith Pekau

In contrast, Republican candidates for Congress in IL-06 and IL-13, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and Regan Deering of Decatur, respectively, both submitted responses to Illinois Family Institute on their stances on socially conservative issues. While Pekau’s campaign website does not include socially conservative platform planks, Deering’s campaign website still contains her pro-2nd Amendment and right-to-life stances. 

In fact, EMILY’s List launched a nearly $750,000 TV ad buy against Deering.  Combined with a similar independent expenditure from a PAC controlled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Deering is clearly a threat to win the open IL-13 seat. The attacks on her pro-life stance confirms her pro-life stance. Deering celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs decision in order to return abortion policy to the states. However, Deering is not in favor of a National Abortion Ban, though the left implies she does in their TV attack ads.

Esther Joy King

Now let’s look at the top-tier U.S. House race in Illinois, the open IL-17 seat and a toss-up district. While Republican nominee Esther Joy King (R-East Moline) did not return her Illinois Family Institute survey, her campaign website states she’s “unapologetically pro-life” and supports the Second Amendment. King has not scrubbed these two planks from her website nor is she expected to.

Unlike Lauf, the three higher-tiered targeted U.S. House races’ Republican nominees in Illinois did not remove their social conservative platform planks going into the general election. Lauf is fond of saying how “LIONS” are needed in Congress.  Through Lauf’s actions, though, the only kind of lion she’s shown voters to be is the cowardly lion of The Wizard of Oz fame before he found his courage. Lauf, 29, could likely be seen as a product of her youth and lack of significant life experiences that a few more years of life experiences will change.  Like the Cowardly Lion, will Lauf find her courage before November 8? Or, if she defies the odds and wins this seat, will she abandon other conservative positions?

John Feehery Op-Ed in The Hill Pushing Catalina Lauf and Inconsistencies of Lauf’s History Evidence of More Rewriting History

John Feehery

On September 20, The Hill published an op-ed by John Feehery concerning the 2022 midterms titled, “Democratic mismanagement makes suburbs ripe for a return to the GOP”.  Feehery started working on Capitol Hill in 1989 at the age of 25 for GOP Congressman Robert Michels (IL-18), then House Minority Leader. He went on to become GOP Congressman Denny Hastert’s (IL-14) spokesperson before becoming a lobbyist full-time. Recently, the now-58-year-old Feehery was interviewed by NPR demonstrating a conservative’s abandoning of another conservative plank — marriage being between a man and woman.

In the September 14 NPR interview, Feehery said:

“There’s a vocal minority amongst the Republican base that doesn’t want this to happen [passage of congressional legislation codifying same-sex marriage]. But I do think that ultimately, you know, you don’t want to take away the ability for people to get married once you gave them that ability. And I think the politics, as you point out, are pretty good.”

But in The Hill op-ed, Feehery focused on DuPage County, IL.  Growing up in neighboring Cook County, Feehery noted how DuPage had become a bellweather for suburbs across the country in both 2020 and 2022. The 11th Congressional District of Illinois includes 8 counties, and the 3rd most populous is DuPage, behind Kane and McHenry counties.

Chicagoland Congressional Districts 2022

Feehery theorizes:

“…ideal Republican candidate from this county would be able to build a coalition of supporters, some of whom strongly support Trump and some of whom are more concerned with local issues, such as crime, the economy and the terrible stewardship of Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D).”

Reading that portion, I had immediate flashbacks to the failed gubernatorial candidacy of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin in the Republican primary.

Then came this:

“Catalina Lauf, who is running against Democratic Rep. Bill Foster in Illinois’s 11th District, is an intriguing candidate able to unify both factions of the Republican base and to appeal to the ascendant DuPage County immigrants who are up for grabs this fall.”

In the primary, Lauf finished a close 2nd in the DuPage County portion of IL-11, which includes all of the cities of Naperville and Aurora. So let’s see what, in Lauf’s record, would help her appeal to DuPage County immigrants:

“Her mother [is] a first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, and Lauf speaks fluent Spanish, which comes in handy for the more than 25 percent of the district who are Hispanic.”

OK, the story about Lauf’s mother is well-known, and while her mother’s story can be inspirational, it says nothing to what Catalina Lauf has done.  As far as Lauf’s Spanish-speaking skills, I have never heard Lauf speak Spanish in the 3 years since she became a political candidate, nor have I seen/heard her give an interview in Spanish to Spanish-speaking media, so this claim by Feehery is unproven.

But next comes this observation:

“Before going to Washington to work at the Commerce Department under Secretary Wilbur Ross, Lauf was a successful entrepreneur who built a baby formula business with her sister Madeline.”

This reminds me of the 1980s Dallas TV show when J.R. Ewing said, “The tall tale is an art form in Texas.” Feehery just proved he could be an artist right out of Texas. Here is Catalina Lauf’s post-college work history after she graduated from the University of Miami (Ohio) in 2013 at the age of 20:

  • Hill + Knowlton Strategies, Corporate Communications Fellow (January 2014 – March 2014)
  • The Firm Consulting LLC, Communications Director (June 2014 – February 2015)
  • Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, Consultant (May 2015)
  • Morningstar, Client Support Representative (2014 – 2015)
  • Uber, Partnerships and Community Affairs (2016 – 2017)
  • Gov. Rauner Re-Election Campaign, Staffer (2018)
  • US Department of Commerce (2018 – 2019)
  • Body Worn Gear, New Business Development (2019 – present)
  • Begin Health, Advisor (2021 – present)

Lauf was a “successful entrepreneur”?  That does not show up very well in Lauf’s job history and her sister’s 2018 start-up, Begin Health, Inc. In fact, Lauf was not involved with the start-up until January of 2021, over two years after Lauf’s Department of Commerce position. Lauf’s sister was the real entrepreneurial driving force launching Begin Health — backed up with multiple YouTube videos — and not Catalina Lauf. Plus, the San Francisco-based Begin Health, Inc. is not a “baby formula” company, but a nutritional supplement company for baby food. Sadly, the embellishment of Lauf’s work history was not the only exaggeration in Feehery’s op-ed:

“Foster refuses to debate Lauf, and for good reason.”

On September 1, Lauf published multiple videos on social media claiming Foster pulled out of debates, candidates forums and other joint appearances.  I should have known better than to take Lauf’s word at face value.

On September 20, Congressman Foster tweeted the following:So Foster accepted a League of Women Voters (LWV) invitation.  Lauf skips LWV debates, the most recent being the LWF-11 primary candidates forum on May 11. In an August article in ProPublica.   Lauf cited LWV’s “hyperpartisanship.” But she published her real reason for skipping after the fact.  Real reason Lauf skipped?  She was the frontrunner and didn’t believe it necessary to return to the same place where she was embarrassed in the 2020 IL-14 primary when she did not know what “ERA” meant.

But the real whopper in Feehery’s op-ed is the following:

“Lauf has been able to raise close to $1.5 million in campaign contributions, mostly through small donations, by saying that, if elected, she will become the anti-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). So she has some money to back up her message.”

More discernment needed on Lauf’s campaign contributions, and here’s the whole truth, sourced from the latest Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filings:

So as of the end of June, which was the date of Illinois’ primary election and the latest data is available, Lauf’s campaign had raised a total of $1.4 million and had less than $26K in the bank. The “$1.5 million” figure was quoted at an August 23 Lauf fundraiser.  According to Cal Skinner at McHenry County Blog who attended the event, Lauf stated she had raised $1.5 million.  I questioned Cal, asking if Lauf was clear that the $1.5 million figure was “since the primary”, and he said Lauf did not provide clarity. In other words, on August 23 since winning the primary on June 28, Lauf had raised around $100K.  Lauf has “some money to back up her message”?  Not much.

September 30 closes out the 3rd quarter FEC reporting period, so there’s a good chance this Feehery op-ed will be used for the final push for fundraising in the final week of September. When the FEC 3rd quarter reports are published next month, anything less than a 7-figure receipt for the quarter will prove Lauf’s campaign will not be competitive against Foster. Lauf will only have herself to blame for the cash and eventual vote shortfall given her abandoning social conservative planks.

Being a “phony” as a congressional candidate has its consequences.

John Lopez has written about policy and elections through the McHenry County Blog since 2019 through July 2021.  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 17 years.

Follow John on Twitter: @MarcVAvelar