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Republican Jeanne Ives jumps in Congress race for Democratic Rep. Casten seat

Before Ives, a former state representative who lost a primary bid against former Gov. Bruce Rauner, can face Casten she must beat Evelyn Sanguinetti, who was Rauner’s running mate.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives
Former state Rep. Jeanne Ives.
Rich Hein/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON – Former state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a West Point graduate whose failed run for governor highlighted her conservative anti-Rauner credentials, jumped in the 6th Congressional District GOP primary on Thursday, setting up a fight with Rauner’s lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti.

The matchup will be the biggest GOP primary for Congress in Illinois. With no fanfare, Ives filed a Statement of Candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

Sanguinetti and Ives will battle for the nomination to take on freshman Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., a Downers Grove resident who in a 2018 upset beat former Rep. Peter Roskam, 53.58% to 46.42%.

The 6th Congressional District hugs Chicago’s western and near southern suburbs and includes parts of Cook, Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Lake counties.

Casten is a major GOP 2020 target.

Ives, who lives in Wheaton — as does Sanguinetti — challenged former Gov. Bruce Rauner and Sanguinetti in the 2018 Republican primary, losing her governor bid with Rauner getting 51.53% to her 48.47%

After her defeat, Ives said on her website, “The popular revolt against Illinois’ political ruling class fell just a bit short.” Ives comes from the anti-GOP establishment pro-Trump wing of the party while Sanguinetti is a more centrist conservative.

Whether this primary evolves into a replay of the hard-hitting Rauner primary contest remains to be seen. What is different is that Ives’ military credential — something not in particular play in the governor primary — is relevant in a run for Congress. Ives husband, Paul, was in her West Point class of 1987. Ives, a captain, outranked her husband, who was a lieutenant.

In a statement, the Sanguinetti campaign said, “We welcome Jeanne to the race and look forward to showing why Evelyn is the conservative with the best chance to beat Casten.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement that the Illinois 6 primary with Ives’ entry has turned “into a full-blown Civil War.”

Casten’s campaign manager Chloe Hunt said in a statement, “Jeanne Ives and Evelyn Sanguinetti both embrace an extreme partisan ideology that would deny a woman’s right to choose and raise our health care costs, they both strongly support President Trump, and they both are wildly out of touch with the concerns of the 6th Congressional District.

“Sean Casten is a businessman and a scientist — not a politician — so he’s focused in Congress on listening to his constituents and delivering for them by working to lower health care costs, reduce taxes, and tackle the existential threat of climate change.”

In a bit of a preemptive strike against Ives, Sanguinetti released on Monday the names of 40 Republicans who back her, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; former Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; former Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., former Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood; DuPage County Board Chair Dan Cronin and a group of GOP township committeemen — all influential in a Republican primary.

With the entry of Ives, Sanguinetti will have to decide if she pulls herself to the right and if she runs with — or from — President Donald Trump, whose name will be at the top of the ballot. If Sanguinetti turns right, it will make it harder to beat Casten, allied with House centrist Democrats.

As of June 30, Casten has $899,888 cash-on-hand.

Sanguinetti, who jumped in the race in April, has $69,890 cash on hand. Rauner donated $2,800 as did his wife, Diana, who gave $2,800. Sanguinetti also loaned her campaign $5,000.

ROSKAM UPDATE

The law firm of Sidley Austin LLP announced earlier this week that Roskam joined the firm’s Government Strategies group as a partner.