Darlene Senger, a three-term state representative from Naperville, won the 11th Congressional District Republican primary Tuesday night, setting the stage for a battle with incumbent Democratic Rep. Bill Foster in the fall.
Senger was considered the frontrunner to win the party’s nomination to try to unseat Foster in the district southwest of Chicago.
The race wasn’t a runaway, though. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Senger had 38 percent of the vote, compared to 32 percent for Grundy County board member Chris Balkema of Channahon. Businessman Bert Miller of Hinsdale and private investigator Ian Bayne of Aurora had 26 percent and 3 percent, respectively.
Senger, an architect of pension reform legislation that passed last year in Springfield, said she feels “pretty confident” heading into the general election in November.
“I just solved the biggest problem in the state of Illinois with the pension problem,” she said. “That’s a feather in my cap. I can move things forward and get things done.”
In a statement, Foster congratulated Senger before going on the attack.
“While Republicans have been in charge in Congress, they have brought our economy to the brink with a government shutdown and threat of default, cut essential safety nets for working families like unemployment insurance, and blocked every attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.
In the Downstate 13th District, incumbent Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville will face Ann Callis, a former judge who won the Democratic nomination.
With all precincts reporting, Davis had 54 percent, compared to 41 percent for Urbana lawyer Erika Harold, a former Miss America, and 4 percent for Michael Firsching, a veterinarian from Moro.
Callis, a former chief judge in the 3rd circuit covering Madison and Bond counties, won her primary with 54 percent of the vote, too.
Davis in 2012 barely won the seat once held by six-term Republican Rep. Tim Johnson, and Democrats again are expected to give him a stiff challenge in November. Within minutes of Callis’ victory, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel sent out a news release saying Davis’ record in Congress “will put him on the wrong side of voters in November.”
Of 18 congressional districts in Illinois, 12 are now controlled by Democrats. Only half of the districts had contested primaries.
Among Democratic congressmen, only Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez faced a primary challenge in his 4th District covering Chicago and several near-west suburbs. He cruised to victory over challengers Alexandra Eidenberg and Jorge Zavala.