WASHINGTON - Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, facing an uphill slugfest in her GOP congressional primary against former state Rep. Jeanne Ives, on Friday dropped out of the contest, setting up a likely showdown between Ives and freshman Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill.
“There has been enough destruction in the Republican Party from past election cycles, and I choose not to contribute further to it by engaging in a costly and negative campaign against my opponents,” Sanguinetti said in a statement announcing her departure from the primary.
Though Ives lost a 2018 Republican primary for governor against former Gov. Bruce Rauner and his running mate Sanguinetti, Ives came into the 6th District primary with the experience of running a major campaign and with a national and local donor network.
Sanguinetti alluded to the tough, scorched-earth campaign the GOP primary was shaping up to be in her statement: “Although I firmly believe that I can and will win the nomination, if I stayed in the race, the question in my mind is at what cost.”
Casten beat former Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., in 2018, winning 53.58% to 46.42% to flip the seat. The 2020 fight for the suburban district - which contributed to the Democratic takeover of the House - is a priority for national House Democrats and Republicans.
Sanguinetti was having a tough time raising the big money needed for the primary and quit the race just before the third quarter fundraising reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Ives earlier in October announced she raised $340,298.13 in her first three months in the race. She also won the support of influential conservative groups, including the Freedom Fund, FreedomWorks and the Susan B. Anthony List.
Casten, of Downers Grove, holds a commanding lead in fundraising; his campaign said Thursday he raised over $700,000 in the third quarter and has $1.4 million cash on hand.
Sanguinetti, in her statement said, “It is with deep regret that I must announce that I have officially decided to end my campaign for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Congress for the 6th Congressional District of Illinois. I want to thank everyone that supported me through volunteering, financial contributions, and words of encouragement and support. I am sorry if this announcement lets you down.”
She added, “I wish the remaining candidates all the best, and I encourage all Republicans to unite behind the eventual nominee for the good of the Party and more importantly the Nation as we continue the fight to stop socialism and to protect the American Dream for future generations.”
The Ives campaign said in a statement, “We believe Evelyn was earnest in her advocacy for freedom and limited government. We wish her well in her next endeavor.”
Ives comes from the anti-GOP establishment, pro-President Donald Trump wing of the party while Sanguinetti is a more centrist conservative. Both women oppose abortion, while Casten supports abortion rights.
One issue in a Casten-Ives general election contest would be where the moderate Republicans in the district land and the impact of the ongoing Trump impeachment inquiry - and potential impeachment.
Sanguinetti had the endorsements of current and former Illinois Republicans who have politically thrived in the suburbs: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, former Sen. Mark Kir, former Rep. Judy Biggert, former Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood and Dan Cronin, the DuPage County chairman.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP political organization, was giving an assist to Sanguinetti, adding her name to their “Young Guns” program.
Casten campaign manager Chloe Hunt said in a statement, “The Republican Party of today and Donald Trump have left Republican voters behind. Evelyn Sanguinetti dropping out of the race is a clear indicator that the extreme far right partisan ideology and support of Donald Trump and his hateful rhetoric and policies is wildly out of touch with the concerns of the 6th Congressional District.”
Andy Orellana, a spokesman for the House Democratic political shop, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a statement said Sanguinetti’s dropping out “underscores just how toxic the Trump agenda is in communities across the country.”
Ives and Sanguinetti are both from Wheaton; another Republican, Gordon Kinzler, a surgeon from Glen Ellyn, also is running. The Illinois primary is March 17.
The 6th Congressional District hugs Chicago’s western and near southern suburbs and includes parts of Cook, Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Lake counties.