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Senate hopeful Rauschenberger aims to 'move beyond Ryan years'

September 24, 2003


"Mr. Rauschenberger goes to Washington" might be a mouthful, but with the backing of dozens of Republican colleagues in Springfield and years of pulling together state budgets, Steve Rauschenberger says it can happen.

The state senator from Elgin formally announced his bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate on Tuesday. He joins a crowded field, but hopes to use his reputation as an up-and-coming member of the party to stand out.

"We can move beyond the George Ryan years," Rauschenberger, 47, said amid his 14-stop announcement tour. "It's time for the Republican Party to take a look at its young, energizing bench players."

Rauschenberger, hoping to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald in 2004, told a crowd of supporters in Elgin he has received the endorsement of more than 40 of his Senate and House colleagues.

''I will keep sprinting, and with your help and the grace of God, I will cross the finish line first next March,'' Rauschenberger said.


Favorite childhood TV show: "Gilligan's Island"
Last movie seen: "Seabiscuit"
What's on his radio: AM-1000 (White Sox games)
Childhood nickname: Wofats
Favorite pigout food: Chocolate chip ice cream
Last good book read: "Up Country," by Nelson DeMille
First car: 1967 Rambler American Rebel station wagon
Political hero: Ronald W. Reagan

His district includes portions of Cook and Kane counties. Since first elected in 1993, he has served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and was appointed assistant Republican leader of the Senate.

Rauschenberger said he hopes to use the consensus building skills from his budget experience on the campaign trail and in Washington.

"What the budget process has taught me most of all is if you're going to build support, you have to share information and get others' input," he said.

Rauschenberger jokes that, unlike wealthy opponents in the Senate race, he's a "hundred-aire." But he has reached into his pocket for $18,000 over the past six weeks to fund his campaign staff salaries as he built up to Tuesday's announcement.

And he's already started to get his name out, launching radio ads that play off his name with a jingle. He said he's trying to put some fun into the campaign. On the campaign trail, he said he plans to focus on job creation, tort reform, lowering taxes, free trade and national security.

Rauschenberger, a former furniture company executive, is married to his high school sweetheart, Betty, and has two sons.

Other Republicans expected to announce or already running for the Senate seat include Chicago lawyer John Cox, businessman James Oberweis, investor Jack Ryan and businessman Andrew J. McKenna Jr.

Contributing: AP


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