Long Grove Village President Maria Rodriguez
Melissa Bean, Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District of Illinois.
Ending weeks of speculation, Long Grove Village President Maria Rodriguez today will formally announce her bid for Congress.
Rodriguez will run as a Republican for the 8th District seat now held by three-term Democrat Melissa Bean.
The kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. outside the former Abernathy's Department Store in downtown Mundelein.
Rodriguez will be the third Republican to enter the race. She's set to face Greg Jacobs of Mundelein and John Dawson of Barrington in the February 2010 GOP primary.
Neither Jacobs nor Dawson has made much campaign noise so far.
On Wednesday, Dawson said he's staying in the race. Jacobs could not be reached for comment.
Although she's a relatively late entry, one local GOP leader believes Rodriguez is the front-runner for the party's nomination.
"I think it's very exciting," said Dan Venturi, chairman of the Lake County Republican organization. "She brings a lot of energy, experience and credibility."
Bean, of Barrington, is running for re-election. She crushed the GOP's Steve Greenberg to retain her seat in 2008.
A Bean spokesman declined to comment on Rodriguez's candidacy.
Rodriguez, who won re-election in Long Grove earlier this year, was recruited for the House race by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP's campaign organization.
"We have a strong field of candidates and prospective candidates looking to take on Melissa Bean next November, and Maria Rodriguez is included in that group," NRCC spokesman Tom Erickson said. "Her leadership at the local level is certainly something that could appeal to voters disillusioned with Melissa Bean's record."
Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wasn't impressed by the GOP's enthusiasm for Rodriguez.
"It's hard to take Republican operatives at all seriously in Illinois' 8th Congressional District when they make the same bogus claims every (election) cycle and their candidates turn out to be total flops," Rudominer said.
The national GOP initially promoted Greenberg's challenge last year, but cut its financial support long before Election Day. Greenberg's campaign was vastly underfunded compared to Bean's, and that imbalance was reflected at the polls.
Although he's glad to see Rodriguez enter the race, Venturi doesn't believe Jacobs and Dawson should drop out, moves that would eliminate the need for a primary battle.
A primary campaign would allow Rodriguez to start building name recognition long before the November general election, he said.
"If she gets a free ride in the primary, I think it may be a missed opportunity to get (her) name out there," Venturi said.
Also in the running for the 8th House seat is repeat candidate Bill Scheurer of Lindenhurst, who's seeking the Green Party nomination.