Friday, December 16, 2005

Bean: ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Be Running Against Me’

Nate Legue
Lakeland Media

The Barrington business consultant who unseated the longest-running incumbent in the U.S. House last year doesn’t fear the Republicans clamoring to regain the 8th District in 2006.

Touting her legislative efforts and constituent services, Democratic freshman Rep. Melissa Bean struck a defiant pose Thursday despite Republican claims that she will have a target on her back come November.

“They’ve done polls here, and so have we, and I’m coming back,” Bean said during an interview last week. “I’m not taking anything for granted, ... but I wouldn’t want to be running against me.”

During the 2004 election cycle, the diminutive campaigner attacked former Rep. Phil Crane for being out of touch with the district after more than three decades in the Capitol. In her 10 months as a legislator, Bean has hosted more than 20 “Congress on the Corner” events, meet-and-greets where she sets up shop in local supermarkets to talk to constituents.

“It’s a district that’s very independent, that people don’t have hard political affiliations,” Bean said. “I think that’s what I proved by winning, and that’s what I’m hearing today: People respect somebody who’s going to work hard at the issues they care about.”

Still, six Republicans from the district, which includes the western half of Lake County as well as Gurnee and Zion, have signed on for a bid to challenge her next year.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, a group dedicated to increasing GOP seats in the House, already has criticized Bean in news releases and pledged to support whoever wins the primary in March.

A strong Republican candidate, the competitive nature of the district and the expense of the Chicago media market kind of makes the stars align to make this one of the most expensive races in the country,” said Jonathan Collegio, NRCC spokesman.

But Bean dismissed much of the predictions as Republican blustering and said the majority party may have to spend its resources defending incumbents. She had $1.1 million in cash on hand in her campaign coffers as of Sept. 30, more than the combined totals of the four Republican challengers who were required to report their fundraising by that deadline.

Bean said she’s built a strong base of support in the four years since she first considered running for the office and enjoys a comfortable monetary lead in her efforts. She is on track to raise between $3 million and $4 million, if necessary.

But one of her prospective GOP opponents, former investment banker David McSweeney, said Bean is “absolutely beatable” and expects to raise at least $5 million in the race if he’s victorious in the crowded Republican primary.

“No. 1, in this district in 2004, 56 percent went for President Bush, despite the meltdown in the state Republican party and the fact that Bush didn’t spend any money here,” McSweeney said.

Also on the GOP side, lawyer Kathy Salvi, state Rep. Robert Churchill, businesswoman Teresa Bartels, conservative activist Ken Arnold and lawyer Aaron Lincoln round out the field. Writer and activist Bill Scheurer has pledged to run as a third-party candidate.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Republicans Line Up For 8th District

Cristel Mohrman
Pioneer Press

Eighth Congressional hopefuls didn't waste any time making their candidacies official this week.

Republicans Ken Arnold, Teresa Bartels, Robert Churchill, Aaron Lincoln, David McSweeney and Kathy Salvi and Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean all filed for candidacy at 8 a.m. Monday in Springfield, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The Republicans will face off in the March 21 primary election.

Arnold is a senior benefit plan management consultant from Gurnee. Co-founder of a taxpayer watch group for Warren and Newport townships, he also serves as Warren Township precinct committeeman and officer.

He served as Republican party chairman from 1998 to 2002, and recently served as vice chairman of the Lake County Republican Party.

Bartels, a Mundelein resident who owned an operated the Manpower franchise of Lake and McHenry counties for 16 years, is actively involved in her community.

She currently serves as board member, chairwoman of the development council and treasurer of the University Center of Lake County, vice chairwoman of the Carmel High School board and is active with St. Francis de Sales Church and the United Way, among other organizations.

Churchill, a state representative, R-62nd, for 20 years, lives in Lake Villa and has practiced law in Grayslake for 33 years.

He has said serving in Congress would give him the opportunity to serve a larger population than he does as a state representative.

An lawyer from Wauconda, Lincoln served as a federal attorney for more than 10 years.

He is also a veteran U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals' Corps officer. He has served four years of active duty and five years in the reserves.

Barrington Hills resident McSweeney, who has put his 17-year career as an investment banker on hold to actively campaign for the election, has contributed at least $250,000 of his own money toward his coffer.

A former Palatine Township trustee who lost an 8th Congressional primary race to Phil Crane in 1998, he has gained the endorsements of former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka.

Salvi, an attorney from Mundelein, is married to former state legislator Al Salvi.

She turned down this week an invitation from Jim Oberweis to run for lieutenant governor, saying her first priority is to serve the 8th Congressional District.

The winner of the Republican primary is expected to face freshman Congresswoman Bean. No candidates had announced plans to run against her in the primary as of Tuesday.

Filing for the primary election ends Monday.

Independent candidate Bill Scheurer, of Lindenhurst, has said he will run against Bean and the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 7, 2006 general election.

Cristel Mohrman can be reached at

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bean Challengers Sound Alike At Club's Forum

Cristel Mohrman
Pioneer Press

With the primary election a full four months away, seven 8th Congressional District hopefuls kicked off the campaign season last week at a forum sponsored by the Barrington High School Political Science Club.

Campaign signs peppered the parking lot of the Stonegate Conference Center, where Republicans Ken Arnold, Robert Churchill, Aaron Lincoln, David McSweeney and Kathy Salvi and independent candidate Bill Scheurer shared their views on issues ranging from education to the war in Iraq with an audience of more than 50 high school students, parents and residents. Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean could not attend the forum because of a scheduling mix-up.

The Republicans will face off in the March 21 election. The prevailing candidate will go on to face Bean next November. Scheurer will also compete in that race.

Stay in Iraq

Republican candidates agreed last week that the U.S. should maintain a presence in Iraq until tensions ease.

"I support the efforts there. There will be a time when we will leave the country, but it will be a time when it's a democracy that is hopefully our friend," Churchill said.

Salvi, an attorney from Mundelein, said while she believes Iraqi soldiers should defend their own country, she trusts the U.S. administration to determine the right time for U.S. troops to return home.

Scheurer, a Lindenhurst resident who has a son stationed in Baghdad, took another position.

"We act as if the Iraqis are fighting some strange, mysterious people. What's happening is, Iraqis are fighting Iraqis. It's a civil war that we've gotten ourselves in the midst of. We can't abandon Iraq. We caused a terrible problem there," he said, adding the U.S. should send in people who can mediate and help fix the nation's economy.

When it came to U.S. fiscal policy, Scheurer agreed with the Republicans that spending needs to be cut. While solutions included McSweeney's proposal to cease funding of the National Endowment of the Arts, Salvi's suggestion to cut funding for public broadcasting and Arnold's proposal to save money by standardizing welfare and food stamps programs, Scheurer suggested the most comprehensive reform.

He said he supports a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, that he would not support transportation spending not directly tied to the interstate system and that wealthy school districts should not receive federal funds.

He also said the funding for the space program should be cut and the money used to research and develop new energy sources.

The Republican candidates agreed either alternative fuels or additional U.S. refineries are necessary to end the nation's dependency on foreign oil.

All of the candidates also shared similar platforms on education, believing reform should be addressed on either a state or local level rather than through the stringent requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. They were unanimous in their agreement that eminent domain should not be used to pursue private or economic development.

Just want Bean out

Some candidates indicated the ultimate goal is to oust Bean from office.

Churchill, a former state representative who lives in Lake Villa, described the upcoming primary as a "family fight."

"I believe that any one of us can do a better job than the person from the other family. No matter who wins, we're going to take Nov. 21 with strength," he said, but added that his experience gives him an edge.

Salvi agreed Bean should be defeated, but said that among the challengers she has the advantage as a female candidate.

"This is our best chance to win this seat back, while Melissa Bean is a freshman congresswoman," Lincoln, an attorney from Wauconda, said. "The House of Representatives may change hands if things don't turn around."

McSweeney, an investment banker from Barrington Hills, said the race will be about the issues. He said Bean has established a liberal voting record and criticized her positions on energy and medical malpractice.

Republican hopeful Teresa Bartels attended only the first few minutes of the forum before leaving for another speaking engagement.

In her opening statement she said she would be a listener and a leader if elected to Congress.

A self-described "independent conservative," she said she supports a simplified tax code and providing the armed forces with tools to fight the war on terror.

Brent Frey, a Barrington High School senior and Political Science Club member who coordinated last week's event, said students started with a list of about 60 possible topics for the candidates to address.

"We whittled it down to what we felt will be the most important issues," he said.

Diversity in opinion was also important to the students, which led them to include a candidate whose name won't appear on the ballot until next November.

"I wanted to create something that was more than just a Republican event, that's why we invited Mr. Scheurer," Paul Ruiz, senior and Political Science Club president, said.

The students said they will continue to follow the 8th Congressional race as well as others in the Barrington area.