Larry Kaifesh wins GOP nod, ready to take on Tammy Duckworth

Larry Kaifesh said the lessons he learned earning the Republican nomination for the U.S. House 8th District will help him take on Tammy Duckworth in November.

Kaifesh, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, defeated Manju Goel of Aurora in Tuesday night's election, claiming 71 percent of the votes, according to preliminary results. The district serves several local towns, including Addison, Bensenville, Carol Stream, Lombard and Villa Park.

The primary race was marred by accusations of smear tactics against Kaifesh and complaints to the Federal Election Commission about Goel's campaign practices.

"I think it's the best thing that could have happened to us," Kaifesh said of Goel's campaign. "To have a challenging opponent with a significant amount of resources, it required us to really hone in on what we were doing. ... It really tested our mettle."

Kaifesh said he received a concession call from Goel on Tuesday night.

"We let her know we're looking forward to working together for what it is we want to accomplish, and that's turning this district around," said Kaifesh, 46, of Carpentersville.

Revitalizing the economy is job No. 1 for Kaifesh, who looks to unseat incumbent Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates. To do that, he plans to focus on four key issues – repealing Obamacare, promoting the Keystone Pipeline, building the nation's energy independence and shrinking government.

"We are probably polar opposites on most issues," Kaifesh said of Duckworth. "I'm limited government, smaller taxes, free market capitalism. I plan to focus on the economy and make sure it's thriving."

As the victory party of about 200 people winded down Tuesday night at Strike Ten Bowling in Roselle, Kaifesh's camp was already considering adjustments to its campaign. He expects to spend more time addressing the issues than reacting to his opponent.

"We're tired right now, but we're motivated," Kaifesh said. "This is a big hurdle. We saw things we need to work on to refine our plan. It's a matter of getting our message out in the right manner. And it is the right message."