Is Peter Roskam vulnerable as he seeks a seventh term in Congress next year?
At least seven Democrats see an opportunity to unseat the Wheaton Republican and have launched primary campaigns for their party’s nomination to oppose Roskam in next November’s general election.
The horseshoe-shaped Sixth District includes portions of Lake and McHenry counties, northwest Cook, northeast Kane and central DuPage.
Roskam, 56, has robustly supported President Donald Trump in the first year of the new Republican Administration. He’s voted the Trump line nearly 91 percent of the time — including a repeal of the Affordable Care Act while advocating a sweeping tax reform bill.
But he’s traditionally earned strong ratings from conservative groups, including lifetime 82.77 score from the American Conservative Union and a top score from the National Rifle Association.
He has most recently helped shape a sweeping tax bill as member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and on the House-Senate conference committee that resolved differences between bills passed by the two chambers.
“This plan is a good plan,” Roskam told WGN-TV last month. “It offers middle income tax relief, it offers business income tax relief that we’ve been trying to do for years.”
But to many of Roskam’s constituents, the positions on health care and the tax bill — especially possible limitations on deductions of mortgage interest and state and local taxes — are said to be increasingly unpopular.
Despite those votes, outside observers still give Roskam the edge.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections say the district will likely remain Republican. Cook Political Report rated the race a toss-up last summer.
Capitol Fax, produced by longtime Illinois political observer Rich Miller, said a mid-November survey by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found Roskam had a 53 percent disapproval rating and that he would lose to a generic Democrat by a 51-41 percent margin at the time of the survey.
Further, the PPP poll reported a majority of voters (54%) would be less likely to support Roskam if he voted for the Trump tax plan.
Although boundaries have shifted over the years, the west suburban region has voted Republican for decades. It previously was a compact district largely covering DuPage County and represented for much of that time by the late Henry Hyde, who died in 2007.
Roskam was first elected in 2006, narrowly beating now-U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth.
The Sixth District was redrawn with expanded territory following the 2010 Census.
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton found local voters receptive during her 2016 presidential run and carried the district by seven points over Trump. That reversed a nine-point win by Republican Mitt Romney over incumbent President Barack Obama in 2012.
The district is targeted by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as among 23 currently represented by Republicans but won by Clinton last year.
The Democratic primary field includes five women and two men, including:
- Becky Anderson, a Naperville City Council member and co-owner of Anderson’s Book Stores;
- Sean Casten, a scientist and clean energy entrepreneur;
- Carole Cheney, former district chief of staff for Rep. Bill Foster (D-11);
- Amanda Howland, a College of Lake County trustee who ran against Roskam in 2016;
- Ryan Huffman, a data analyst for a healthcare startup firm;
- Kelly Mazeski, a former North Barrington village trustee;
- Jennifer Zordani, an attorney.
Roskam has an outsized financial edge with $1.3 million in campaign cash on hand as of Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
The seven Democratic candidates reported a combined total of less than $1 million, led by Mazeski’s $342,755 as of late September. Mazeski has also earned endorsements from two current Illinois Democratic congressional representatives — Cheri Bustos (17th) and Jan Schakowsky
Howland is back for another run after a nearly 20-point loss to Roskam in 2016.
— Dems see Trump support making Roskam vulnerable in 6th District . —-