By Peter Savodnik - 07/06/05 12:00 AM EDT
Republican state Sen. Peter Roskam, hoping to replace retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), banked nearly $400,000 in his first quarter of fundraising, according to the Roskam campaign.
Roskam’s fundraising total for the three-month period from April 1 through June 30 will put him way ahead of any of his possible rivals for the GOP nomination in the strongly Republican 6th District outside Chicago.
All candidates must file disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission by July 15.
Roskam now has more than $370,000 cash on hand, drawn from approximately 420 donors, including 100 who donated more than $90,000 online — figures more closely resembling those of a Senate candidate rather than those of a state lawmaker hoping to get elected to the House.
In the 2004 campaign cycle, Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.), in the nearby 8th District, reeled in just less than $1.6 million, according to politicalmoneyline.com. At his current pace, Roskam, the state Senate’s Republican whip, will raise far more than that.
Ryan McLaughlin, Roskam’s campaign manager, noted that Rep. John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) Freedom Project leadership PAC gave the maximum $5,000 to the campaign. Boehner was the only House Republican to give to Roskam, McLaughlin added.
McLaughlin said Roskam had received roughly $50,000 from PACs.
“This is significant, since PACs don’t usually get involved in primaries and it’s a Republican seat,” McLaughlin said.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Carol Pankau (R), who has yet to announce her House bid but is all but certain to run, is still trying to claw her way out of the red from her last campaign for the state Legislature.
Pankau’s daughter, Shay McCorkle, who is running a golf fundraiser for her mother’s campaign, said signs reading “Pankau for Congress” already have been printed.
The event scheduled for next month aims to help erase Pankau’s debt from last year’s race. A letter from Pankau inviting supporters to the outing at the Bloomingdale Golf Club says: “The State Senate has proven to be exciting and the road to get here expensive. So, if you could ‘chip-in’ some bucks and play a round, I would greatly appreciate it.” Attendees are expected to pay between $250 and $2,000.
An Illinois Republican close to the Roskam campaign said Pankau’s money woes would prevent her from making a credible run for Hyde’s seat.
The Republican said that Roskam’s and Pankau’s respective support at the Wheaton Independence Day parade, in the heart of the district, made it clear just how far Pankau has to go to catch up to Roskam.
“If you saw the army marching with [Roskam] in this parade, you’d say, ‘Why is anybody else running against him?’” the Republican said.
Pankau has portrayed herself as a centrist, female alternative to the more conservative Roskam, who once worked for Hyde and considers himself the heir apparent to the congressman.
Matt Leffingwell, a spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party, said the major dividing line between Pankau and Roskam was the issue of abortion, with Pankau for and Roskam against abortion rights.
Leffingwell added that the big question is how much money the independently wealthy Pankau spends on the race. While Roskam is the clear front-runner for now, Pankau has the resources to run a competitive race, Republican operatives say.
Pankau was first elected to the Illinois Senate last year. Before that, she served in the state House of Representatives for a decade.
McCorkle, Pankau’s daughter, said her mother had recently hired a campaign manager, although she said she did not have the campaign manager’s name. Neither Pankau nor her campaign manager could be reached for comment yesterday.
At least officially, Hyde has said he will not try to influence the Republican primary in any way.
Hyde’s 2004 Democratic challenger, Christine Cegelis, is running again for the 6th District seat.
Last year, Cegelis’s campaign did better than expected at the polls, winning more than 44 percent of the vote. That prompted Democrats to take a hard look at the seat, with many saying that Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), would make the race a priority, given that it’s in his home state of Illinois.
Cegelis is running on a pro-business, results-oriented platform similar to that of Rep. Melissa Bean, the Democrat who beat Crane in one of the biggest upsets of 2004, Democrats familiar with the district say.