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District 11 Congressional candidates weigh in on Cantor loss

Susan Frick Carlman
scarlman@stmedianetwork.com | @scarlman
June 13 7 a.m.

A year from now, someone from Naperville will occupy the seat representing the 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The voters will decide in November whether it will be incumbent Democrat Bill Foster or his Republican challenger, former Naperville City Council member and third-term state Rep. Darlene Senger.

One thing is certain, however: neither will serve alongside current House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

After polls showed him with a 34-point lead going into Tuesday’s GOP primary in Virginia, Cantor lost to his tea party-backed challenger, college professor Dave Brat, by 12 percent of the vote. Cantor, whose bid for an eighth term fell short even in his own district, had outdone his opponent in fund raising by a factor of 25 to 1. It was the first time a House majority leader had lost a primary since the post was established in 1899.

Commentators Wednesday surmised that Cantor’s support for immigration reform contributed to his abrupt political downfall by drawing the ire of the tea party, which consistently opposes efforts to provide amnesty for undocumented residents. Cantor, who will step down from the House leader post at the end of July, also was criticized for not devoting more of his energy to his home district.

Asked to speculate on the decisive upset, the candidates in the 11th District weighed in with emailed statements Wednesday.

Craig Belden, Foster’s campaign manager, saw the primary outcome as an unwelcome development for the GOP.

“Eric Cantor’s loss yesterday is a stunning example of how the Republican Party continues to be pulled to the far right by Tea Party extremists,” Belden said in an email. “We have already seen the results of an out-of-touch Republican Party controlling Congress — they caused a shutdown which halted government and cost taxpayers millions and have blocked every attempt to pass legislation on important issues like immigration reform, raising the minimum wage and strengthening the middle class. Unfortunately, it looks like the Republican Party is determined to move even further to the right and out of the mainstream.”

Senger — who was among 11 Republican candidates anointed this week as “Young Guns” after formulating strong campaigns and reaching certain benchmarks, in a recognition program established by Cantor and some of his House colleagues for the 2007-08 election cycle — issued a response to the Virginia primary that took aim closer to home.

“In the coming days and weeks there will be a lot of narratives about why and how Majority Leader Cantor lost, but for me, the old adage that all politics is local is the applicable one,” she said in an email. “And that’s why I’m running for Congress, I believe our current Congressman is out-of-touch and uninterested in the concerns of the families of this district.”

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