Former state legislator Jeanne Ives, who nearly defeated then-Gov. Bruce Rauner in the 2018 primary, is back to challenge first-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) in a 2020 race that Republicans hope will help flip the House.
Ives took on the incumbent governor of her own party in 2018 after he angered conservatives by raising taxes and flip-flopping on state funding of abortions. A fearless, tireless campaigner, Ives came within less than 3%.
(Rauner went on to lose to Democrat billionaire J.B. Pritzker, who has distinguished himself by complaining on national TV about President Donald Trump while his wife evades stay-at-home orders by traveling to Florida.)
Now, Ives is taking on Casten, who is notorious for insulting his opponents and who has taken radical stances out of step with his district, most notably by supporting President Donald Trump’s impeachment in 2019.
Politico documented how unpopular Casten’s stance was in October 2019, noting that even Democrats vented their frustration at him during local town hall meetings, irritated that he had neglected their own priorities.
Ives told Breitbart News Sunday that the coronavirus pandemic has since upended the race: “It certainly was a big part of our campaign until COVD-19 hit,” she said. Now, she said, the focus is on “getting the economy back and going, and doing it safely here in Illinois.”
Ives criticized Casten’s response to the crisis. “It you’re looking at non-essential employees, Sean Casten is essentially that,” she quipped, noting that he had defended China from criticism, even defending the “wet markets” thought to have helped spread of the virus.
She also criticized Casten for trying to insert special credits for the renewable energy industry into emergency relief bill for coronavirus — something Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was criticized for doing in March. Casten is “personally invested” in the industry, her website noted at the time.
“He was too busy asking for self-serving renewable energy credits,” Ives told Breitbart News Sunday, to ask for relief that Illinois needed.
The Cook Partisan Report rates Illinois’ 6th district as “likely Democratic,” though it is among the competitive races Republicans are targeting in 2020. The seat was previously held by veteran Rep. Peter Roskam (R).
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.