GOP War Of Words Continues In Race For Hastert's Seat

Illinois GOP state senator Chris Lauzen declined to commit to endorsing his primary rival, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, if he emerges as the party’s nominee in the February special election to succeed former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

“He should not take anyone’s goodwill for granted,” said Lauzen in an interview with “I believe that both of us need to conduct ourselves in a way that makes easier for us to support each other.”

The campaign between the two conservative Republicans has turned very negative, with each trading pointed barbs against each other. Oberweis has portrayed Lauzen as a career politician while Lauzen has ridiculed Oberweis’ record of losing his last three statewide elections.

“Jim has been consistently told no by the people of Illinois,” said Lauzen. “I think what Jim doesn’t recognize is that he’s running in a GOP primary and when we’re finished, no matter who wins on February 6, all people need the other people to support him”

Internal polling from both Republican campaigns has shown the primary race neck-and-neck.

Oberweis, however, received a key endorsement from Hastert last week, and has been able to spend more money by virtue of his personal wealth.

But Lauzen actually ended the third quarter with more cash on hand than Oberweis, thanks to a $325,000 loan he made to his campaign.

If Lauzen ended up withholding an endorsement, Democrats would be in better position to win the Aurora-based seat. The district gave President Bush 55 percent of the vote in 2004, but many statewide political observers believe an open seat – particularly in a low-turnout special election – would be up for grabs.