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The Doctor is In: Bill Foster Back To Politics in Race for 11th District

By Karl Klockars in News on May 31, 2011 6:20PM

2011_5_31_foster.jpg While most of the redistricting ink has been spilled about the Republican opposition to the new Illinois map, the most interesting fight of the 2012 primary battle is already brewing in the new 11th District - between Democrats.

Former Representative Bill Foster announced this morning that he was back in the political hunt, this time for the 11th District which now covers Aurora, a city he used to represent. Foster is a scientist/businessman/politician who formerly served the 14th district, winning a 2008 election that was considered a bellwether for the Democratic "Obama wave" of that year.

In March of that year, Foster defeated perennial candidate Jim Oberweis in a special election to take the seat of former House speaker Dennis Hastert. He beat Oberweis again in the general election and served 3 years in DC. Now he wants to take another seat in Washington, after being swept out this year in another wave - former state Senator Randy Hultgren took Foster's seat in last year's Tea Party rush of Republicans. Foster actually still lives in the 14th, but candidates don't need to reside in the district they'll represent.

From a statement Foster released this morning:

"I am running to return to Congress because there are important things left to accomplish, and important accomplishments that must be defended," said Foster. "Our fragile economic recovery must be sustained, and the long-term fiscal problems that we face must be solved without breaking promises to our seniors or dismantling Medicare. Reforms to our financial and healthcare systems must continue so that they work well for both businesses and ordinary people."

The statement describes his background as a physicist and a small business owner and includes an endorsement from Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, but devotes just a single sentence to anything he actually did in DC. He cites his "important role" on the Financial Services Committee helping to craft the Wall Street reform bill, but nothing else.

He'll potentially be up against John Atkinson, an insurance executive with Willis and a health-care reform advocate who raised eyebrows with his huge fundraising haul and his intent to take down one of his own, Dan Lipinski. Lipinski is one of the bluest of the Blue Dogs, voting against the Health Care Reform bill, consistently voting against abortion rights and was one of the few Democrats who voted with the Republican house to "redefine rape." Atkinson was just remapped into the 11th district, presumably with the intent to protect Lipinski, though Atkinson says he hasn't made a decision on which district he'll do battle for. Whichever district he chooses, he'll be in a fight with a Democrat with DC experience on their resume.

The Republican primary battle of who can out-Tea-Party the other will be predictably entertaining, but look to the 11th district for the real progressive fireworks. With Foster jumping into the pool, it'll be interesting to see what other state pols consider testing the water.