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Hastert, Hultgren carry GOP hopes in 14th Congressional District
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Ethan Hastert

 

Randall Hultgren

 

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Published: 2/1/2010 12:01 AM

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Tuesday's primary places the Republican hopes of recapturing the 14th Congressional seat they maintained for so long on the shoulders of Ethan Hastert and Randy Hultgren.

Hastert has not served as an elected official, but he brings the name recognition and the money some Republicans believe are necessary to win back the seat that Hastert's father held for decades.

Hultgren brings a fairly lengthy record of public service to the table, thanks to his years in the Illinois General Assembly.

The two share many of the same views on issues, including opposition to the current health care reform proposals and to federal funding for abortions, and both think insurance companies should be able to sell across state lines to increase competition.

They also both dismiss the federal stimulus package as mostly a failure and share a similar view of the wars: commit to begin moving troops out of Iraq and bring a renewed focus to Afghanistan.

When it comes to the economy and jobs, the two differ a bit.

Hultgren wants tax credits to jump start the economy, including ones for job creation, and he wants increased tax deductions for children and married couples and the extension of the 2003 tax credits.

Hastert thinks jobs will be created if the government is smaller and less intrusive, and thinks tax credits to spur the economy are not a good idea.

But both Hastert and Hultgren have obstacles to overcome if they want to beat Democrat Bill Foster in November.

Hastert's father, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, left office before his term was up to become a lobbyist. That led to an expensive special election. The elder Hastert also raised eyebrows at the money he walked away with in the future Longmeadow Parkway project. Ethan Hastert has publicly maintained a wide berth from his father throughout the campaign, telling voters he's running as his own man.

Hultgren has the baggage of being attached to a state government facing massive financial problems and debt. He's also far behind in the race for campaign cash necessary to get his message out with less than $200,000. Hastert has already topped that milestone. In comparison, Foster has more than $1 million ready to pump into the general election.

Hultgren recently issued an apology to Hastert concerning a mailer that attempted to tie Hastert to human trafficking. However, Hastert has thus far viewed the attempted hand shake as a halfhearted apology with Hultgren saying he was sorry for creating a distraction from the issues in the race, rather than apologizing for the for the actual message.

For Foster's part, if he wins in November, it could be the last tough race he will compete in. Redistricting will occur after the national census. With Democrats currently controlling all the power to redraw the maps, Foster's district may very well become a safer Democratic district by the time he runs again. But first he must beat either Hastert or Hultgren in November.