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Goel, Kaifesh vie in GOP primary for Eighth Congressional District

Manju Goel

Manju Goel

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Updated: March 28, 2014 6:08AM

A self-employed businesswoman from Aurora and a decorated Marine reservist from Carpentersville are squaring off in the Republican primary March 18 for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District and the right to face incumbent Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the Nov. 8 general election.

According to her campaign website, Manju Goel, 47, grew up in a middle-class family in northern India and came to the United States at the age of 21. A married mother of two college-age children, she worked for more than five years as a process improvement specialist for Advocate Healthcare and now is a self-employed consultant in that field.

“She is a strong advocate of constitutional balanced budget amendment,” the website states.

“Together, let’s retire Obamacare, let’s retire big government, let’s retire high taxes, let’s retire deficits, let’s retire debt, let’s retire foreign aid to terrorists, and let’s retire Tammy Duckworth.”

The site notes endorsements from Newt Gingrich and Congressmen Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).

Goel’s opponent in the primary is Larry Kaifesh. According to his website, Kaifesh was born in Elgin, graduated from Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville where he was a wrestling champion, and “has spent the majority of the last 23 years serving our country in the United States Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Larry has deployed five different times to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In a video on the site, Kaifesh said he is a Marine colonel who recently left the Pentagon, where he was working for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and moved back to his hometown in the fall to run for Congress.

Kaifesh, 46, also went to Hollywood for a time in 1996, where he worked for a talent agency. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University and a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College.

On his site, Kaifesh states, “The greatest threat to our republic will come from within, and we see it today in the crushing burden of our national debt, unemployment, weak economy and the promotion of ‘Big Government’ responsible for it.”

His endorsement list includes Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and John Kline (R-Minn.); the Indian American Republican Organization; GOP organizations in Addison, Barrington, Elk Grove, Hanover, Palatine, Schaumburg and Wheeling townships; and ​Combat Veterans for Congress.

Record touted

When asked what differentiates him from Goel, Kaifesh said, “I don’t know what she stands for. She voted Democratic in 2008 and 2012, yet she calls herself a conservative. That doesn’t make sense. She has no credibility.”

By contrast, Kaifesh said he has a long line of success and credibility behind him with a track record of bringing people together.

“She wasn’t able to get the support of her own community,” Kaifesh said.

Kaifesh also noted that, unlike Goel, he lives in the district for which he will serve.

For her part Goel, while complimentary of Kaifesh’s military record, has questions about him moving back to Illinois in October to run for office.

In an emailed statement, the Goel campaign claims Kaifesh is “renting a property for six months (lease expires 12 days after the primaries) and cannot be found at his listed address in his candidacy paper ... . At best he is gaming the system, and at worst he is lying at his candidacy papers. He owns properties in California and in Virginia but not in Illinois. He states his prime residence to be his Virginia property.”

“The people need to know his complete past,” the email states.

First term

Incumbent Duckworth, 45, of Hoffman Estates is a U.S. Army veteran and former assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs. She lost part of both legs in 2004 in Iraq after the helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by an RPG. She lost a bid for Congress in 2010 but bested tea party-backed Republican Joe Walsh in 2012. She was born in Thailand to a father in the U.S. military and mother of Chinese heritage.

She is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

The 8th District was redrawn in 2011 and includes portions of Cook, DuPage, Lake and Kane counties. It covers a portions of Elgin and Carpentersville as well as East Dundee, Hoffman Estates, Hanover Park and Streamwood. It is about 12 percent Asian and 22 percent Hispanic. Rules don’t require a candidate to live within a district’s boundaries.

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