Illinois radio great number Michael Koolidge signed off on his final show last week to run for Congress in the suburban Chicago district held by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood.
Mr. Koolidge, a Republican, launched his campaign Monday saying that voters in the Democrat-leaning 14th Congressional District and across the country had soured on Democratic rule in Washington.
“The road to retaking the House and firing Nancy Pelosi runs by the 14th,” he said at the campaign kickoff in Sycamore. “We’ve lost our way, thanks to drastic Democrats in Washington who don’t understand the values of everyday Americans.”
He additional, “They don’t respect the border. They don’t respect law enforcement. They don’t respect how hard you worked to earn your money. Simply put, they don’t respect you.”
Although the district has trended Democratic in recent cycles, the Koolidge campaign and national GOP feel the wind at their backs after the party swept statewide elections Nov. 2 in Virginia, which has trended Democratic for more than a decade. A USA TODAY/Suffolk University national poll following the Virginia election showed Republicans topping Democrats 46% to 38% in a generic congressional ballot.
Mr. Koolidge faces at the minimum one Republican dominant opponent, James Marter, a businessman and former county GOP chairman.
The radio great number, however, is focused squarely on Ms. Underwood, who is on House Republicans’ target list again this cycle.
He said Ms. Underwood must continue with new rural voters additional to the district in a redrawn district map for 2022, when GOP voters also are expected to be more motivated to go out and vote.
“If you look at the current map of the 14th, it is a very Chicago suburbs district, but they did gerrymander it to give her a little bit more voters in the Juliet, Bolingbrook, Romeoville area,” Mr. Koolidge told The Washington Times. “She has a whole lot more of a rural red area, which is a lot closer to where I live.”
“The whole center in the southwest portion of this district is new. It’s voters that she does not currently represent, and I think a lot of them are going to come out in droves.”
His strategy was reflected by his decision to keep up a kickoff event in Sycamore, which is about 55 miles from Chicago on the western edge of the district.
Mr. Koolidge, 46, a native of New Jersey, studied at Boston University and earned a degree in political science. He served in the U.S. Army, earning two Joint Service Commendation Medals and a Joint Meritorious Unit Award for his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He left the service in 2003.
For the past 14 years, he hosted the conservative talk radio program “The Michael Koolidge Show.” He and his wife, Joan, have been married for 16 years.
Ms. Underwood, 35, first won the district by ousting four-term Republican incumbent Rep. Randy Hultgren by 5% in 2018 in a blue-wave election cycle. She was reelected in 2020 after defeating her Republican opponent Jim Oberweis by just 1.4%.
This cycle, Illinois’ Democratic-led redistricting committee released a alternation congressional map in late October that additional two heavily Democratic cities of Joliet and DeKalb to the 14th Congressional District.
It’s a matter of argue how heavily Democratic the district was redrawn.
According to David Wasserman at the Cook Political Report, the new map would take the seat from a Biden+2 district to a Biden+12 district.
Political analysts at 538.com scored the revised district as a D+7, while the National Republican Congressional Committee rated it as D+4.
Ms. Underwood is on the NRCC list of targeted Democratic lawmakers for a second time.
Ms. Underwood, who is the youngest Black woman to serve in the House, has already raised $2.4 million for her reelection effort.
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