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Local News

Former Notre Dame kicker announces run to challenge Underwood in 2020

Says 'big government liberals' are attacking the U.S. free market system

Ted Gradel, a former Notre Dame football player, announced his run for Congress in the 14th Illinois District to challenge incumbent Lauren Underwood.
Ted Gradel, a former Notre Dame football player, announced his run for Congress in the 14th Illinois District to challenge incumbent Lauren Underwood.

Another Republican announced his run to challenge U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, in 2020.

Ted Gradel, a self-described “political outsider and conservative” and former Notre Dame football kicker, announced his run for the Republican nomination to represent the 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of McHenry, Lake, Kane, DeKalb, DuPage, Kendall and Will counties.

The Naperville resident touted his career in business and as a youth sports coach in a news release announcing his candidacy. He went on to say the country’s “free market system that rewards ingenuity and work ethic is under assault from big government liberals.” He said he supports a strong military and abides by President Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of “peace, through strength.”

Gradel said he supports term limits to kick out career politicians in both parties, opposes a graduated income tax at the state level in Illinois, and thinks the greatest threat to the country is its “out-of-control” debt.

“Washington politicians have lost their way, and I won’t stand idly by as Democrats like Lauren Underwood try to force a socialist agenda on Illinois and the country,” Gradel said.

Gradel put out a two-minute video, titled “Underdog,” featuring his coach at Notre Dame, Lou Holtz. The former coach talked about Gradel walking on to the football team and being persistent in asking Holtz for a shot to be the team’s starting kicker.

The former coach spoke to what he called the need for the country’s leaders to “protect our freedom, opportunity and the values that made this underdog nation the greatest on earth.”

Gradel has a wife and three daughters, according to the release.

At age 32, Underwood became the youngest black woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Naperville native, registered nurse and health policy expert pulled off the upset last November to defeat incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren for his Congressional seat, which he won back in 2010.

Multiple challengers from around the district have already added their names to the list of candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run against Underwood in the November 2020 election.

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