Scott Gryder wants to focus his general election campaign for Congress on the state of the economy but is well aware that his conservative stands on abortion and gun control will be deal-killers for some voters.
The Kendall County Board chairman won a convincing victory June 28 in a crowded Republican primary field for the 14th Congressional District nomination. He will face two-term incumbent Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, in the fall.
“We are diametrically opposed on virtually every issue,” Gryder said.
Gryder claimed nearly 31% of the vote in the five-way primary race. Unofficial totals showed Gryder with 13,783 votes.
Kendall County Republican Party Chairman James Marter, like Gryder a resident of Oswego, placed second in the balloting with 10,785 votes, for slightly more than 24%.
Mike Koolidge of Rochelle, Jack Lombardi of Manhattan and Jamie Milton of Fox River Grove divvied up the rest of the vote.
In Kendall County, Gryder received slightly more than 50% of the vote, with 5,316 ballots. Marter gathered 2,927 votes for nearly 28%.
Gryder said Underwood will be a formidable opponent but likes his prospects in the redrawn 14th District.
The elephant in the room for Gryder will be former President Donald Trump, who remains the dominant force in the Republican Party, as evidenced by Darren Bailey’s GOP primary win in the race for Illinois governor.
“There were a lot of good things that happened when Trump was president but now people are ready for a new standard-bearer,” Gryder said. “A lot of people are ready to turn the page on Trump.”
While the other four candidates in the race, particularly Marter, were vocal Trump acolytes, the former president did not issue an endorsement in the 14th District primary.
“We’re in line on the issues,” Gryder said of Trump. “But I’ve always been my own person. I’m not going to pledge allegiance to one person.”
While Gryder does not subscribe to the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, neither does he hold Trump culpable for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
On the Big Lie, Gryder chooses his words carefully in acknowledging that Trump did not win the election.
“We know that because Joe Biden is in the White House,” Gryder said.
Gryder knows that he will need the Trump base if he is to win the general election.
“We all want the same thing, limited government,” Gryder said. “I’m pro-freedom, pro-family and pro-business.”
Gryder will seek to make the economy, particularly gasoline and food prices, the big issue in the campaign.
However, with the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the proliferation of mass shootings, Gryder said he knows that abortion and gun violence also will be in the forefront for many voters.
Gryder describes himself as pro-life on abortion and said he would support federal legislation banning the procedure, except in the cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
On gun violence, Gryder describes himself as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and said the focus should be on improving mental health services.
Gryder said he knows that some voters make their decision on a candidate over a single issue, but is not going to change his views on abortion or gun rights.
“I have my core values,” Gryder said.
With his experience as county board chairman, Gryder is presenting himself as a practical politician who can bring people together and get things done.
“We have to be realistic,” Gryder said. “I don’t think compromise is a dirty word.”