Foster leads cash race in 14th Congressional

  • Bil Foster

    Bil Foster

Published: 10/3/2007 12:17 AM

Democrat Bill Foster appears to be a front-runner in the 14th Congressional fundraising race, having amassed an estimated $408,000 campaign war chest during the most recent period, he told supporters in a conference call Tuesday.

More than 80 percent of Foster's donors are first-time donors, and nearly three-quarters are scientists like Foster, a former Fermilab physicist. Half the funds are on loan from Foster himself, a millionaire who lives in the Mill Creek development west of Geneva.

None of the other campaigns would release their figures yet. Financial statements from the third quarter are due to the Federal Election Commission Oct. 15, when they will be available to the public.

Foster, who has yet to hold a single fundraiser, said he's "extremely happy" with the amount of money that came into his campaign during the third quarter.

"There are many people in the scientific community that are familiar with my career and my ability to change things and succeed at what I do," Foster said. "These people understand that someone with a background like mine is what's needed to bring change to Washington."

Foster will face two-time candidate John Laesch of Newark and St. Charles attorney Jotham Stein in the Democratic primary Feb. 5. Representatives from Laesch's and Stein's campaigns said they were not prepared to release financial statements.

On the GOP side are entertainment promoter Rudy Clai of North Aurora, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, state Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora and dairy magnate Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove.

In a plea to supporters last week just before the reporting deadline, Lauzen emphasized the financial challenge he faces against Oberweis, a millionaire, and Burns, a professional fundraiser for Midwestern University. He asked supporters to donate $10 or $25.

"I am in a race where one of my opponents (Oberweis) has spent over $7.5 million of his own money in three unsuccessful statewide races and has vowed to spend $2.5 million on this race," Lauzen wrote in the e-mail. "My other opponent is a professional fundraiser who has committed to use his experience to fund his race."

Terry Burns, Burns' wife and a campaign volunteer, said the campaign is "still putting the paperwork together."

"We've been overwhelmed with the response," she said. "Every day there's checks in the mail."

Clai, who announced his campaign last week, said he doesn't have any money yet but his own. The campaign's first fundraiser is Sunday.

All are vying to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Plano Republican who recently announced his retirement after winning an 11th term in November.

More than 650 individual donors contributed to Foster's campaign this quarter and the average contribution is $315, according to a campaign spokesman. This is his first run for political office.

This is going to be an expensive race, one Washington-based congressional campaign watcher pointed out.

Foster "has to be able to spend a lot more than $200,000 of his own money to win. We're looking at $2 million," said David Wasserman, an editor at The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter of electoral politics. "A solid week of TV commercials in the Chicago media market is expensive. He's going to need to tap into his personal wealth to debunk voters' perceptions of him as inexperienced."