The two Republican candidates running in the 11th U.S. Congressional District primary race faced off during a forum held by local GOP organizations Monday night.
Krishna Bansal, a Naperville businessman, and Rick Laib, a Joliet resident and sergeant for the Will County Sheriff's Office, are vying for the GOP nomination. Both men touted their conservative credentials and argued why they would be best to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Foster.
"Of course this is going to be an uphill battle," Bansal said. "This is going to be a big campaign. I'm gearing up to take on Bill Foster."
The moderator asked both candidates how they plan on defeating Foster, especially since neither has much name recognition.
Laib was specifically asked how he would fare against Foster considering he's only been able to generate meager fundraising for his campaign. Between July 1 and the end of last year, Laib raised $5,245, according to Federal Election Commission filing records.
Bansal raised over $200,000 during the fourth quarter of 2019. Foster raised over $1 million in 2019 for his reelection campaign and has over $3 million in cash on hand.
"I know that I have not done as much fundraising as others," Laib said. "I think the question then, I guess, is everybody OK with just letting people who have lots of money run for office?"
The moderator asked Bansal how he would expand his name recognition beyond the Naperville and Aurora areas.
"I have been very active," Bansal said. "Now how to reach out? It's a big district, definitely it's a big district. We are doing every event and that's where money helps."
Bansal and Laib were in agreement on supporting President Donald Trump's immigration policies, specifically on building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Definitely the wall should be built," Bansal said.
They also appeared to be in agreement on advocating for less government involvement in the college loan industry when asked a question about tackling student debt.
"Congress should do something," Laib said. "They should do it quickly and that is to get out of the student loan business."
Bansal said he agreed and that "we should not be socializing education like we are socializing everything."
Foster, D-Naperville, is the incumbent who is facing a competitive primary of his own against Will County Board member Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet.
Finally, when asked if they would support the eventual nominee for the general election, both said they would.
The primary election in Illinois is March 17.