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Five file to fill Hastert's House seat
By Lisa Smith | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/11/2007 12:18 AM

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There were no surprises on the first day of filing Monday for the special election to serve the remaining months of former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert's term representing the 14th Congressional District.

The weeklong filing period for the special primary election opened at 8 a.m. Monday at the Illinois State Board of Elections in Springfield, with three Republicans and two Democrats submitting paperwork.

GOP contenders Chris Lauzen, Jim Oberweis and Kevin Burns and Democrats John Laesch and Bill Foster filed simultaneously. That means a lottery will determine whose name appears first on the ballot.

All five are running in the regular primary as well. Both elections are Feb. 5.

Democrats Jotham Stein and Joe Serra also are running in the regular primary but did not yet file for the special election. Republican Michael Dilger, a candidate in the regular primary, also did not file for the special election Monday.

Candidates began circulating petitions Dec. 3, the day Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced the date of the special election. Campaign workers trudged through the wind and snow to gather signatures.

Republicans must submit 793 signatures, while Democrats must have 863. That number, determined by the state, equals 0.5 percent of voters who cast ballots in the last primary for each of those parties.

The candidates who filed Monday turned in double and triple the required amount as a way to demonstrate their support and protect against challenges. Citizens can file objections to nominating petitions next week.

Lauzen, a state senator from Aurora, presented the most signatures: 3,385. Dairy magnate Oberweis, of Sugar Grove, came in with 2,406 signatures, and Burns, mayor of Geneva, submitted 2,010.

Laesch, a Newark carpenter who challenged Hastert a year ago, turned in more than 1,700 signatures and Foster, a former Fermilab scientist from Geneva, had 1,832.

The top Republican and Democratic vote-getters in the special primary will compete in the special general election March 8 to fulfill the remainder of Hastert's term, which ends in January 2009.

The winners of the regular primary will compete in the Nov. 4 general election for a 2-year term.