DuPage Democrats

January 2019 View more

Lauren Underwood greets supporters at her election night party.

County chairman reacts to monumental shift in local congressional leadership

By Linda Girardi

The reality of breaking the GOP stronghold in DuPage County has settled in, as Representatives Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood head to their offices in Washington, D.C., this month as members of the 116th United States Congress.

“We have finally reached a point that many of us thought would never happen,” DuPage’s Democratic Party chairman, Robert Peickert, says of the midterm election results. “DuPage County is no longer a red county. DuPage is blue.”

Casten, a Democratic newcomer from Downers Grove, bested longtime Republican incumbent Peter Roskam of Wheaton in the 6th District. In the 14th District, Underwood of Naperville defeated Representative Randy Hultgren of Plano.

With the exception of Bill Foster, who now serves in the 11th Congressional District, the Democratic Party has not won the offices of the 6th and 14th districts for decades (see sidebar). George W. Collins was elected in 1970 in the 6th District, and 1933 was the year Chester C. Thompson was elected in the 14th District.

Peickert says DuPage County ended the Republican stronghold in part due to the quality of candidates. “Prospective candidates were interviewed,” he says, “which was a big difference from the years in the past.”

Casten and Underwood brought their own styles into the campaigns, Peickert says. “Sean had a way of communicating with people and Lauren raised issues that Democrats were overall concerned about.”

President Trump and the demographics of DuPage County influenced the election as well, the Democratic Party chairman says, adding that Casten and Underwood will add to the effort to change the whole atmosphere in Washington when they take office January 3. “Sean and Lauren are willing to work across the aisle with Republicans on issues that are important to voters.”

Photo by Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune; Graphic Source: Illinois State Board of Elections