By Kerry Lester
You'd think local Democrats might be hard-pressed to recruit someone to take on Republican Congressman Peter Roskam, an incumbent with a $2 million war chest and a leadership position in the GOP-controlled House. That wasn't the case this March, as Barrington Hills accountant Leslie Coolidge won a three-way Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District.
With the congressional remap, the 6th District has morphed from a relatively contiguous block based mainly in DuPage County into a sprawling creature that reaches into DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Cook counties.
Republican strategist Pat Durante has put the reconfigured 6th District at about 56 percent GOP. When crafting the remap, Democrats focused on the marquee matchup in the nearby 8th District pitting Iraq War veteran and Democrat Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates against Tea Party favorite and Republican Congressman Joe Walsh of McHenry.
For Democrats, the map is "heavy in the 8th (District) and weak in the 6th (District)," Durante, a former top aide to 6th District Congressman Henry Hyde said in March.
Coolidge, 52, is a Harvard-educated certified public account and retired partner in KPMG. She said last summer's crisis over raising the debt ceiling that caused fears of default galvanized her to run for election. She favors environmental protection, eliminating tax cuts for people making over $1 million a year and targeted incentives for businesses that create jobs.
While Coolidge raised $51,000, spent $90,000 and loaned her campaign around $45,000 in the primary, Roskam raised nearly $1.8 million and spent about $812,000 in the election cycle, according to federal filings. She currently has just over $2,000 in her war chest while Roskam has close to $2 million.
Coolidge has said she'll lobby for financial help from the national Democratic campaign organization and groups such as Emily's List, a political action committee that supports Democratic women who support abortion rights.
"I'm not intending this to be a self-fundraising campaign. Now there's some time to focus on fundraising and certainly the intent is to raise more money than we have," she said.