by Garrett Frisk
Lauren Underwood was elected to represent Illinois's 14th congressional district amidst the Democratic wave of 2018, when the nurse and former Department of Health and Human Services staffer unseated incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren by a 5% margin. In her 2020 re-election bid, she was heavily targeted by Republicans. They nominated state senator Jim Oberweis, who had made numerous unsuccessful runs for Congress in the past. Underwood was able to hang on, turning back Oberweis by a slim 0.8% margin. During their 2021 redistricting process, Illinois Democrats shored up Underwood's district by including the liberal cities of Joliet and DeKalb, turning it from a district that Joe Biden won by 2% into one that he won by 12%. Republicans still made a concerted effort to flip the district in 2022, nominating Kendall County board chairman Scott Gryder, but Underwood won by a much more comfortable 8% margin. Considered a rising star among House Democrats, Underwood is unlikely to lose, especially in a presidential year. However, that hasn't deterred three Republicans, who have already announced they'll run against her in 2024.
One of her challengers is a previous foe back for a second attempt. Internet businessman Jack Lombardi previously ran for the 14th district in 2022, finishing fourth in the primary with 14% of the vote. He has announced that he will run again in 2024. His campaign website can be found here. Additionally, there are two new faces in the race. One is technology sales consultant Matt Leiv, who is campaigning on his experience in the United States Marine Corps. His website can be found here. Finally, actress and model Krystal Dorey is also in the race. She is the CEO of an interior design firm. Her Facebook page can be found here. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will face an uphill battle in the general election, as all major election forecasters rate this race as Safe or Likely Democratic.
Elsewhere in Illinois, other candidates are kicking off their campaigns. Democrat Robin Kelly of the 2nd congressional district, fresh off being ejected from her role as Illinois Democratic Party chair, will face a primary challenge from retired firefighter John Curry. His website can be found here. Meanwhile, Republican Joseph Severino has announced that he will challenge 10th district Democrat Brad Schneider for a second time. Severino was previously the Republican nominee for this district in 2022 and received 36.5% of the vote. His campaign Twitter can be found here. Finally, Republican Joshua Loyd is running against freshman Democrat Nikki Budzinski in the 13th district. Loyd, a United States Army veteran, will face an uphill battle against Budzinski, who won her first term in 2022 with 56.6% of the vote. Loyd's website can be found here.
This story was updated to correct the spelling of Krystal Dorey's name.