Rep. Casten has fundraising lead over Newman, others in new 6th District
With a potentially costly Democratic primary battle less than six months away, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten ended 2021 with a dominating fundraising lead over U.S. Rep. Marie Newman in Illinois' 6th District, new documents show.
And none of the six Republicans who've filed candidate paperwork in the 6th are close to matching Casten's or Newman's cash.
Casten, a Downers Grove resident seeking a third term in Congress, finished the year with nearly $1.6 million in his campaign war chest.
Newman, a first-term lawmaker from La Grange, was a distant second at the end of the year, with about $573,120 in her campaign coffers.
Newman currently serves the 3rd District, where she has lived. But she's running in the 6th after last year's district remap put her in the Hispanic-heavy 4th District with Democratic incumbent Jesus "Chuy" Garcia of Chicago.
Congressional representatives don't need to live in the districts they serve. Newman's home is near the 6th District line.
Congressional candidates must file quarterly financial reports with the Federal Election Commission once their campaigns collect or spend at least $5,000. Year-end reports covering Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 were due by Monday night. They can be viewed at fec.gov.
The newly redrawn 6th District includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties.
The Casten for Congress committee started October with about $1 million saved, and it received about $700,067 in campaign contributions during the fourth quarter.
About $548,534 came from individual donors, while $151,000 came from political action committees representing special interest groups, documents showed.
A member of the House financial services committee, Casten reported receiving thousands of dollars from companies in or representing the insurance and banking industries, including those for:
• The American Bankers Association, which gave $2,500.
• American Express, which gave $2,500.
• Discover Financial Services, which gave $1,000.
• Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., which gave $2,500.
• The Zurich Holding Co. of America, which gave $2,000.
Casten also received $4,000 from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's campaign committee.
A campaign spokesman said Casten's fundraising shows support for what he's accomplished in his current term, citing his successful pushes for infrastructure funding and cleaner energy use by the federal government as examples.
Casten reported about $169,538 in operational expenses -- for consultants, staff payroll, printing and more -- and other disbursements during the quarter. Additionally, Team Casten reported about $75,694 in outstanding debt to the candidate.
The Marie Newman for Congress committee started last quarter with about $437,873 saved, and it received nearly $337,877 in campaign contributions during the period.
Of that cash, about $286,877 came from individuals. In a statement through a spokesman, Newman thanked "(the) grass-roots supporters who have chipped in to help keep progressive leadership alive in the South and West suburbs of Chicago."
Newman also received $50,000 from political action committees, including:
• The Amalgamated Transit Union, which gave $5,000.
• The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which gave $5,000.
• EMILY's List, a group that supports female Democratic candidates, gave $5,000.
• A gun-control advocacy group named after former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that formerly had backed Casten gave $1,000.
At least two Newman donors also contributed to Casten's campaign. The Barnes & Thornburg law firm gave each candidate $1,000, and NARAL Pro-Choice America gave each $2,500.
Team Newman reported nearly $202,630 in spending for the quarter. That included five payments totaling $24,500 to Iymen Hamman Chehade, a Newman staffer now running for the 3rd District seat who has claimed he didn't run against her in 2020 because she promised him a job.
The Office of Congressional Ethics last week concluded Newman may have violated federal law in the matter. Newman's lawyer acknowledged that her contract with Chehade violated House employment and federal contracting rules.
The House Ethics Committee has said it will review the report and investigate further.
Newman campaign manager Ben Hardin on Tuesday said the inquiry stemmed from a complaint by a "right-wing organization" and is "without merit."
Newman's report also showed $45,000 in legal fees paid to Perkins Coie, the firm representing her in the case.
The Newman campaign had $54,805 in debts, too.
On the other side of the aisle, Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau is leading the Republican field when it comes to campaign cash. He began fundraising in the quarter and ended the year with more than $110,262 saved for the primary, his report showed.
Rob Cruz, a former school board member from Oak Lawn, reported about $33,420 saved at the end of the year, while Glen Ellyn resident Niki Conforti's committee reported having $9,557 in the bank.
Three other GOP candidates -- Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso, Orland Park resident Scott Kaspar and Oak Lawn resident Catherine A. O'Shea -- didn't file reports.
The primary election is June 28. The general election is Nov. 8.
Candidates will make their campaigns official by filing nominating petitions with the state in March.
• Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.