John Lopez did not attend the Republican-sponsored debate in Bollingbrook because he has the flu, but he did watch the recording.
Here are the comments Lopez posted:
First impression, all the candidates did good, some more than others.
Right up until closing statements, Jim Oberweis was concerned about Sue Rezin.
Then came the hit on Ted Gradel.
Oberweis, Rezin and Gradel are all the top candidates and Oberweis and Rezin both receive an “A”, and Gradel an “A-“.
2nd tier candidates of James Marter, Jerry Evans, and Catalina Lauf:
Lauf: “B”, actually brought up Citizens for Rauner but was very clear to only say “JB”, not mentioning she worked against Jeanne Ives. Also, her cheap shot in opening statements about the petition objection with one of the co-objectors, Wheatland Township Trustee Greg Nichols, came across as petty, and Oberweis wisely ignored her because he knows she’s not going anywhere.
Marter: “B++”, he’s very weak on the fundraising question, and that is what holds him back. He does talk the issues.
Evans: “B+”, better debate than in Batavia. Bringing up fellow DuPage residents Peter Roskam and Jeanne Ives was very good.
Catella: “B-” we know he’s not going anywhere, but provided general insight to this race.
Here is commenter “Correcting’s” take:
I appreciated that they did the unique, personalized tough questions (gotcha) for each candidate. With such a short debate, they probably should have skipped either closing or opening remarks. A lot of this stuff was repeat, so it wasn’t that informative if you’ve been following the race. Issues got skimped.
Kind of difficult to rate the candidates on this one. They were on a more equal footing tonight and all did pretty well. I’ll try…
Rezin: B It was uphill battle, but she made a reasonable case for her committing the political sin of paying for the bills (gas tax issue). She went after Oberweis, but it wasn’t a knockout punch. She needed to do swing though and she did. She got the last word too. When Oberweis mentioned her name, she turned it into an attack on him and then the moderator didn’t let Oberweis rebut her rebuttal (which was probably a good thing because we can’t have back and forth forever). Better than her first debate, not as good as the Batavia one. Whether it’s on stage, in person, or on camera, Sue is kind of dopey. Not like dumb-dopey — she’s obviously one of the wonkier candidates and that’s one of her strong suits — but dopey as in she sounds tired. At one point it seemed like she was reading off a script. The only person who was as obviously reading off a script was Catella.
Marter: B+ He did good but my expectations for Marter are higher. He should have gotten into the bloodsports with some of the other candidates. He needs to peel away voters from someone or multiple candidates to win. I am not sure that this debate performance did that. Probably not. Once again, he showed that he is with the base on the issues and he knows the issues. He did a good job at seeming relatable. I liked the line about working at warehouses and board rooms. He didn’t do as much Trump brown nosing as usual. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something missing. Marter is one of those politicians with a high floor but a not so high ceiling, and his supporters are “sticky.” Am I using a double standard for Lauf and Marter? No, because Lauf picked up support tonight but Marter probably remained where he was before.
Gradel: B- Started pretty good (b plus a minus territory) but Oberweis’s attack on him at the end was brutal. Gradel was shook after that. It completely ruined his closing statement. He even lost his words for an awkward moment. His justification for that literature that mentions Madigan/Pritzker was actually a good argument, so I give him credit for that. He had some good moments but it was all overshadowed by Oberweis’s sneak attack. He probably should have emphasized his fundraising numbers more, because they are something to brag about. He missed a good opportunity there to show a strength and he could have tied it into an attack on Oberweis.
Lauf: A Hands down she was the most improved candidate, but she was arguably the best candidate period. I thought the attack she did right out the gate on Oberweis was good, and I like that she kept the pressure on Republicans during the debate. She was more relaxed and confident. Her point about social media and engaging young people is spot on and Republicans need to wake up to this reality. She didn’t have gaffes. Other than a little finger fidgeting at the beginning, she did great. Her quip on not having to worry about her being a career politician since she was a job hopper had excellent timing, humor, and the message was on point. Would anybody like Lauf more if she worked at Uber for an extra year? If that’s the biggest gotcha you can get on her, that’s nothing compared to some of these other candidates’ skeletons. She was powerful when she talked about her supporters knocking on doors. This comeback is probably too little too late. She’s a tough fighter, but Oberweis showed he was too and he has a lot of money. If people were on the fence about her or, worse, former supporters considering switching to someone else, she gave them reason to stick around.
Catella: B Had sense of humor, had no bad gaffes. For any other candidate, that probably wouldn’t be enough to earn them a B, but my expectations of Catella just aren’t that high. Everybody knows he is in over his head. His knowledge of history is impressive. On second thought, when he mentioned that he has 25 dollars, that was a gaffe. The citizen legislator thing is admirable, but the people in the room are realists and they know it’s going to take more than 25 dollars to win a congressional seat. When he talked about the value of precinct committeemen, I think that was one of his better moments. Other than Lauf, Catella was most improved.
Evans: B- Nothing bad, but I’ve heard it before. He missed an opportunity to bust out the specifics on his fundraising during his gotcha question. His numbers weren’t bad considering how late he got into the race. He had a good opportunity to point out that he has more cash on hand than Marter despite when he got in. Or he could have contrasted his fundraising to Oberweis and Rezin who have special interest money. He’s playing too nice for a bottom tier candidate. Who are the nice guys? Catella and Evans. Look what they have to show for it.
Oberweis: A- Somewhat forgettable to start out with but his performance was a crescendo. That line about being far right was cringe (nobody thinks he’s the most right wing candidate on stage). He was good at spinning his failures into success and his early political career as far right given that people criticize his more youthful liberal comments. He also at least somewhat effectively attacked Rezin by bringing up her residence not once but twice. I call baloney on anybody who says her residence is not a big deal. He’s ahead of her by 30 points — so it sure ain’t helping her. Watching how aggressive he was, I think he assuaged some of the fear that he would be a pushover and not really go hard against Underwood.