Kane County Board GOP members throw support behind some Democratic candidates

7 Republicans back Sheriff Ron Hain, 1 also backs treasurer candidate Jeffrey Pripusich

Election 2024
Republican Chris Lauzen, left, and Democrat Jeffrey Pripusich are running for Kane County treasurer.

The Kane County Republican Party may be showing a loss of loyalty – or a fissure – as seven GOP county board candidates endorsed Democrat Ron Hain for sheriff and one of them is backing Democrat Jeffrey Pripusich for treasurer in the Nov. 8 general election.

County Board Republicans Bill Lenert, David Brown, John Martin, Todd Wallace, Barbara Wojnicki, Drew Frasz and Clifford Surges are all listed on Hain’s campaign website as endorsing him and not Republican Jeff Bodin. Surges is vice chairman of the party. Frasz said he is supporting Pripusich over Republican Chris Lauzen for Kane treasurer.

Kane County Republican Chairman Andro Lerario said he addressed this apparent lack of party loyalty in a text message he sent out.

Andro Lerario is the new chairman of the Kane County Republican Party.

“I made it clear to people that we vote for and support Republicans,” Lerario said. “What I said is this: A house divided cannot stand. We need to all be very careful of the small things that can pull us apart. Right now, there is jealousy and envy surrounding us because people are starting to take notice that we are coming together and building a team. We can’t let them hurt that.”

Still, Lerario denied that Republican support for Hain indicated a split among Kane Republicans. It’s that board members know Hain and get along with him, Lerario said.

“There’s two ways the [party] chairman can look at this. ‘Don’t ever do that. You don’t do that,’” Lerario said of GOP support for a Democrat. “If there is some commonality and we can get along, maybe they can get us to a better place – not to the far lefts and far rights of the world.”

Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain (left) and challenger Jeff Bodin (right).

Bodin said Republicans who support Hain “don’t know the real Ron Hain.”

“He’s a smooth talker,” Bodin said.

Pripusich over Lauzen

“I think coming from the outside and with a solid background in finance, I’d rather vote for somebody who doesn’t carry a lot of political baggage and a lot of political debts to pay,” Frasz said referring to Lauzen.

“Mr. Lauzen’s D2s [campaign finance records] show substantial contributions from lots of different organizations over the years. Who’s he serving?” Frasz said “Secondly, I’m voting for his opponent because I got to know Mr. Lauzen very well in his time on the board. He has been a state senator and county board chairman. Like COVID, we just don’t need another variant.”

In an email, Lauzen responded that Frasz was “sore about my calling him out on his recent deficit-spending and tax-increase votes …”

“Mr. Frasz campaigned on my record of freezing county property taxes for eight years straight,” Lauzen wrote. “Now he criticizes the record … that he voted for.”

As for any perceived split among Republicans, Lauzen wrote that Lerario’s counsel for the GOP to stick together is right.

“Progressive Democrat policies are despoiling our country, state and county,” according to Lauzen’s email. “I am proud of our campaign’s hard-earned grassroots and broad-based financial support. Tired old politicians can criticize me all they want. … They have mostly quit early, lost their primaries or, like Mr. Frasz, chosen not to face voters again.”

The candidate, not the party

Pripusich said he does not think Kane Republicans are divided.

“I don’t think for a minute it’s a split in the Republican party,” Pripusich said. “It’s candidate over party.”

Lenert, Wojnicki, Wallace and Frasz all said they support Hain as the best choice for Kane County, as is reflected on Hain’s election website, www.hainforkanesheriff.com.

As to supporting Hain the Democrat over Bodin the Republican, Frasz said, “Ron Hain is one of the best sheriffs we’ve ever had.”

“He has got an excellent rapport with the county board and other officials, he’s very involved in community outreach and working with various groups,” Frasz said. “I think it shows that we have an open mind and can be bipartisan when it comes to supporting the right person for the job.”

Lenert, Wojnicki and Wallace echoed Frasz’s assessment of Hain’s performance as sheriff. Lenert said while serving on the Judicial and Public Safety Committee, Hain improved conditions for detainees and was fiscally responsible, returning over $1 million a year to the county’s general fund.

“It’s not an issue of party loyalty,” Lenert said. “I think the best person should be elected – no doubt in my mind. I have one of his signs up in my yard.”

Wojnicki said she has been on the board through four sheriffs – Kenneth Ramsey, Pat Perez, Donald Kramer and now Hain.

“All have done a good job, but Sheriff Hain has done like an amazing job,” Wojnicki said. “He creates programs for people who come out of incarceration. He’s developed a rehab area in the jail building. Hands down, I think he’s the best sheriff as far as I know and in my time on board and that’s why I’m supporting him.”

Wallace said he and Hain went to high school together.

“But in addition, I think he’s doing a great job,” Wallace said. “I don’t see a whole lot about his job that is an R or a D that makes a lot of difference. … He’s the better candidate. It has nothing to do with his party.”

Hain agreed the sheriff’s function – like that of judges, state’s attorneys and coroners – really has nothing to do with what party they belong to.

“But that’s the way Illinois is set up,” Hain said.

Surges, Brown and Martin did not return voicemail messages seeking comment.