Prevention of another Jack Franks-type as county board chairman played into reason Lauzen’s retirement has not been announced yet
While monitoring last day of filing for the primary election in March, late yesterday afternoon, it was noted the Kane County board chairman Republican primary drew a 2nd candidate to 2-term incumbent Chris Lauzen:
Per the screenshot above, David J. Rickert filed as, on the surface, what looked like a primary challenge to Chairman Lauzen.
Chris Lauzen is calling it a career when his current term ends at the end of November of next year. Prior to his 2 terms as county board chairman, he served 20 years in the state senate where he was firmly established as a true champion for the conservative cause, both fiscally and socially.
Between now and when ballots go to print for the March primary, expect to see Lauzen withdraw his board chairman candidacy, basically handing the 6-term county treasurer from Elgin the nomination for board chairman.
Lauzen and Rickert have been political allies for decades, so I did not see Dave Rickert’s last minute candidacy as a primary challenge.
Blogger Jeff Ward of Geneva confirmed my hypothesis this was a succession-planned retirement move by Lauzen and Rickert in this exchange of tweets last night:
Lauzen of Aurora, who turns 67 at the end of this month, is wished well in his retirement from political office by this time next year.
Lauzen was most recently in McHenry County at the Huntley conservatives event last month and gave a brief update on Kane County, and shared some exceptional metrics for what his administration has done. That will be shared in detail in a future article.
But one impact to McHenry County and northern Kane County residents must be noted. Lauzen’s leadership on the construction of the Longmeadow Parkway bridge and corridor is one of his many accomplishments in his two terms, and he still has a year left in his term.
But getting back to Ward’s tweet concerning “other chairman possibilities”, that goes from both the Republican side and the Democratic side.
And remembering how Jack Franks came to power as McHenry County board chairman in 2016, don’t think Franks’ tenure in Woodstock didn’t factor into the Lauzen succession plan for Geneva.
Clearly, succession was strategic to prevent a free-for-all Republican primary for the board chairmanship. Given the high profile congressional primaries particularly in the 14th district which covers a significant portion of Kane County, another high-level primary for an at-large elected county board chairman was not desired.
Additionally, like anyone in the position like county board chairman, Lauzen had his share of clashes among the 24 board members including Republicans, and seeing one of the rival Republicans as board chairman would, from Lauzen and his allies’ point of view, threaten to undo what Lauzen has accomplished in his 2 terms.
With a longtime ally like Rickert slotted into the Republican nomination, the strategy to prevent a Republican rival of Lauzen’s succeeding him as board chairman is eliminated.
On the Democratic side, a contested primary is set between two definitively lower-tier candidates including a union guy from Elgin, and the woman who lost twice to Jim Oberweis in the general elections of 2012 and 2016 for state senate.
Had Lauzen announced his decision to retire earlier this year, there are several potential top-tier Democratic candidates who could have emerged with a legitimate shot at defeating Rickert in the general.
Two come to mind:
- State Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin, who’s in her first term in the state senate and served on the county board for several terms filed for reelection
- Linda Chapa-LaVia of Aurora, who currently serves in Governor Pritzker’s administration heading the state’s Veterans Affairs program, and prior to her appointment, was elected to 9 terms as a state representative in the General Assembly. The Veterans Affairs position is the same position that launched Tammy Duckworth from failed congressional candidate in 2006 to flipping a House seat and a U.S. Senate seat in Washington in the past 7 years.
Does one see echoes of Jack Franks given those credentials of the two women, who also happen to be Latinas?
The “blue wave” that hit Illinois last year hit Kane County government as well, with a Democrat elected sheriff and the county board composition 12-12 between Republicans and Democrats. Two county board seats were flipped last year, including one of the districts that borders McHenry County.
While there is nothing the Republicans can do to prevent Rickert from being the nominee, the Democrats could do something in spite of the petition filing deadline passing to put a higher-tier nominee to run against Rickert next November.
Whether the Democrats will do that remains to be seen.
And my compliments to Jeff Ward (no relation to state senate candidate Jeanette Ward running to succeed Jim Oberweis) for his insight.
Ward closed our Twitter exchange last night with this additional tweet: