State Sen. Jim Oberweis won the Republican nomination for the 14th District Tuesday, slated to face freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood after the second-place finisher of six other candidates in the primary conceded.
Oberweis had 25% of the vote with 86% of precincts reporting as of 10:30 p.m. CST, prompting fellow state Sen. Sue Rezin, who won 23% of the vote, to concede the race.
"This has been a spirited and well fought campaign," Oberweis said in a statement. "I have been disappointed in the negative tone that the campaign has taken, but all of that is behind us. Now is the time for us as Republicans to come together and finish the mission which is to defeat Lauren Underwood in November."
Oberweis is an Illinois state senator from Sugar Grove, in office since 2013. He chairs his family’s Oberweis Dairy business, purchasing it more than 30 years ago after starting a career in finance. A perennial candidate, Oberweis has run for U.S. Senate three times since 2002, governor in 2006 and Congress in 2008. He’s used his considerable wealth to fund campaigns in the past, and this race was no different, as he’s loaned his campaign $1 million in the past year - making him by far the most well-funding GOP candidate.
In 2018, Democrats eyed the 14th District as a potential long shot pick-up in their bid to take back the House. Underwood proved she was up to the task, ousting longtime incumbent Rep. Randy Hultgren in a stunning upset. Underwood won by 5 points in a highly competitive suburban battleground race, making her the first African-American, the first woman and the first Millennial to ever represent the district.
This time around, the tables have turned and Republicans wetr the ones lining up to be the one to take Underwood on in November. Containing parts of McHenry, Kane, Lake and Will counties, among others, the district was long a Republican stronghold - represented from 1987 to 2007 by Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House who served a prison sentence in connection with a hush money scheme to hide his history of sexually abusing young boys.
President Donald Trump won the district by 4 points in 2016, which was down from Mitt Romney’s 10-point margin of victory four years earlier - but a victory nonetheless. With Trump at the top of the ticket again this year, seven Republicans jumped into the primary race with hopes that the presidential re-election campaign might buoy Republican efforts to win the district back.
The candidates included Oberweis, Anthony Catella, Jerry Evans, Ted Gradel, Catalina Lauf, Jim Marter and Sue Rezin.
Catella is an Army veteran and former priest, he said in a letter announcing his candidacy, as well as a Republican precinct committeeman in St. Charles Township.
Evans, of Warrenville, is the founder and director of the Jerry Evans School of Music in Wheaton.
Gradel is a financial futures trader from Naperville who also coaches girls youth basketball.
Lauf, of Woodstock, was the youngest candidate in the race. She works for her father’s small business after a stint as a Trump-appointed advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and worked for Uber before that.
Marter is a software business consultant from Oswego who previously chaired the Kendall County Republican Central Committee and unsuccessfully tried to primary then-Sen. Mark Kirk from the right in 2016.
All seven of the candidates painted themselves as fairly hard-line conservatives, some more than others, but with many explicitly hanging their hats on Trump support in an effort to emerge from the GOP primary victorious. Oberweis will face Underwood in November in a race that’s sure to draw national attention.