Government | Northwest Herald

U.S. Rep. Casten is significantly better funded than GOP rival Pekau, records show

Fresh off a decisive Democratic primary win in Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove finished June with a campaign war chest more than 10 times the size of Republican challenger Keith Pekau, records show.

Casten, who soundly defeated fellow U.S. Rep. Marie Newman and Chicagoan Charles Hughes to become the Democratic nominee in the 6th, started the year’s third quarter on July 1 with $574,339 in his campaign coffers.

Pekau, Orland Park’s mayor, had $53,387 saved after his six-way battle for the GOP nomination.

Casten has led all 6th District candidates in fundraising – and spending – throughout the election cycle.

Congressional campaigns must file financial reports with the Federal Election Commission once they collect or spend at least $5,000.

The latest reports, detailing fundraising and spending between June 9 and June 30, were due by the end of last week. The reports can be viewed at fec.gov.

The Casten for Congress committee started the latest filing period with nearly $886,308 saved, and it subsequently collected about $255,368. Its total revenue for the second quarter was about $747,946.

In this last period, about $196,317 came from individuals and $58,950 came from political action committees representing special interests.

Casten is a member of the House financial services committee, and he received at least $20,000 from companies in the insurance, investments and banking industries, including:

• The American Bankers Association, which gave $2,500.

• Capitol One, which gave $2,500.

• The Northern Trust Corp., which gave $1,000.

• Rock Holdings, which gave $5,000.

Deputy campaign manager Jacob Vurpillat said Casten’s fundraising efforts reflect an “overwhelming” approval of his work in Congress.

“People across the district are lining up behind Sean to support him as he works toward passing substantial gun reform, protecting women’s reproductive freedom, and lowering costs for families,” Vurpillat said.

Team Casten spent nearly $567,337 during the period – and $747,946 during the entire quarter – on TV and online advertising, polling, staff salaries and other expenses. It finished June with about $75,694 in debt to the candidate, a sum that’s carried over from previous quarters.

The Pekau for Congress committee started the latest filing period with $56,407 saved, and it subsequently collected nearly $62,621. Its total revenue for the second quarter was about $168,809.

Nearly all of the donations that Pekau’s committee received during this last period came from individuals. The only exception was $5,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Pekau supporters included:

• Former state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger of Elgin, who gave $250.

• Orland Park Trustee Cynthia Katsenes, who gave $400.

• Orland Park Trustee William R. Healy, who donated $1,500 worth of accounting services.

Pekau received no donations from corporate political action committees.

Team Pekau spent more than $65,640 during the period – and $285,513 during the entire quarter – on ads, campaign management, consultants and other expenses, records show. It finished June with about $70,387 in fresh debts to vendors and the candidate.

When asked about the fundraising disparity between the two candidates, Pekau didn’t sound worried.

“If there is one thing I’ve learned from being outspent by two-to-one or more in three elections, it is that money isn’t everything,” he said in an email. “Voters don’t care about how much money candidates spent. What they want are candidates that focus on the issues that they care about most and have a proven record of success.”

Pekau said he’s confident he’ll have the finances to spread his message and win in November.

Redrawn ahead of the election, the 6th District includes much of the west and southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties.