In a rather startling development, Team America hears from several reliable sources that newly-minted Lake County Board Member Aaron Lawlor is going to run for the GOP nomination for the 59th Legislative District, which is the seat recently vacated by former State Rep. Kathy Ryg. Lawlor was appointed to the Lake County Board by County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt to fill the vacancy left by the departure of former board member Pam Newton. Lawlor was sworn in only on July 14, 2009, so such a move is sure to draw attention. Before being appointed to the County Board, Lawlor served as a trustee of the Cook Memorial Library Board in the Libertyville area, and was also elected as President, during which time the library board finalized plans for a major expansion of the library.
Meanwhile, two other Republicans, attorney Dan Sugrue, and business owner Mohan Manian, both of Green Oaks, have already formally announced. We spoke with Sugrue tonight, who ran an uphill battle against entrenched incumbent Kathy Ryg in 2008. Sugrue told TA that he welcomes Lawlor to the race, should he formally toss his hat into the ring.
"I believe any Republican who wants to run should be able to run," Sugrue said. "I'm running an issue-oriented campaign, and my values and beliefs are well-known. I am interested to see where Aaron is on the important issues affecting the 59th District and the State."
When I spoke with Dan, he'd been out campaigning all day, and he re-affirmed his commitment to the race. His first big fund-raising event is scheduled for Thursday, September 17, 2009 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at OPA! Estiatorio restaurant, 950 Lakeview Parkway in Vernon Hills.
Lawlor, who was Deputy District Director for Congressman Mark Kirk, and is involved with Kirk's U.S. Senate campaign, can be counted on to be more moderate than Sugrue on many social issues. Sugrue is a conservative, pro-life Republican, and a primary between Sugrue and Lawlor could ignite differences and cause a show-down between conservative and moderate factions in Lake County (I should note that the 59th District also includes a few precincts in Cook County down in Wheeling, as well). Already, some conservatives in Lake County have sent out an e-mail urging like-minded Republicans to support Sugrue over Lawlor.
This is sure to be the topic of the day at the annual Lake County Central Committee picnic tomorrow. I have to miss it because I'm sailing, but I can't wait for the report from readers who attend. I haven't spoken with Lake County Republican Chairman Dan Venturi about Lawlor's potential candidacy, but in the past, the party has stayed away from making endorsements in contested primaries.
The winner of the GOP primary in February will meet the Democratic nominee in the November general election. Just today, it was announced that the Democrats have chosen a businesswoman and Vernon Hills park board member, Carol Sente, will fill Ryg's unexpired term as State Rep. This came as a bit of a shock, as Buffalo Grove Mayor Elliot Hartstein has already announced he would seek election to the seat, and made no bones about his desire to be given the appointment in the meantime. It remains to be seen as to whether Hartstein stays in the race and sets up an interesting primary on the Dem side.
Buffalo Grove trustee Lisa Stone has also been mentioned as a potential candidate, although it is unclear if she would choose to run as a Democrat or a Republican.
UPDATED 5:15 p.m.: Home from sailing, and haven't got the report from the picnic yet, but the Daily Herald has an article up that confirms that Lawlor is looking at the 59th District race.