Page A3 of Saturday’s paper was a study in contrasts.

Heading the left two columns was a photo of Travis Breeden, a 39-year-old Utica Teamsters member, announcing his candidacy to be the Republican nominee in the 76th Illinois House district next year. His campaign submitted a release saying Breeden wants to expand rights for gun owners in Illinois, including repealing the Firearm Owner Identification Card program and legalizing the open carrying of weapons.

“Promoting additional bans of firearms and passing more regulations hurt legal gun owners and does nothing to reduce violence,” he said, pointing to a high profile incident in Philadelphia in which a felon used a gun to injure police officers during a standoff, apparently invoking the talking point that criminals break laws so we shouldn’t have laws.

Abutting Breeden’s story was a release from the man he wants to challenge, state Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, promoting a gun rights seminar he hosted Monday in Streator in partnership with the Illinois State Rifle Association. Yednock challenged “Chicago politicians … actively working to make new laws to restrict law-abiding citizens’ rights” and said he voted against an FOID revocation law.

In the release, ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson lauded Yednock for protecting “the rights of responsible gun owners.”

It’s hard to get elected in the 76th by promoting increased gun control, but arguing the polar opposite of ending the FOID program is a big ask for almost every Democrat and many swing voters. In May the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention PAC released polling on House Bill 96, the Fix the FOID Act, indicating strong support in the greater Chicago area and 48 percent of voters elsewhere.

If that many voters back improving FOID regulations, it’s safe to guess few endorse Breeden’s repeal position. The ISRA would do well to stick with a Democrat who won’t blindly vote for any new gun law, but it could possibly endorse both men in a primary.

Should he advance to the general election, Breeden might consider stronger focus on his platform’s other planks.

CROWDED FIELD … If Sue Rezin wasn’t feeling the squeeze already, there’s a bit more pressure now. Rezin, R-Morris, wants to challenge Democrat U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood in the 14th Congressional District. On Aug. 16 the National Republican Congressional Committee didn’t name Rezin among candidates qualified for its 2020 Young Guns program, which aims to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats. The NRCC appears to have more faith in Rezin’s state Senate colleague Jim Oberweis and businessman/youth sports coach Ted Gradel.

Then Wednesday the 14th GOP field grew with the addition of Catalina Lauf, a former adviser to the U.S. Department of Commerce under President Donald Trump. Lauf, a 26-year-old from Woodstock, said her parents are a small-business owner from Chicago and a legal immigrant from Guatemala and calls herself “a product of the American Dream.”

There’s now 29 weeks until the Illinois primary and plenty of time for the field to grow or shrink. The 14th is just east of this paper’s coverage area — and Rezin’s home — but her involvement makes it newsworthy given her decade in Springfield representing our readers. In the 16th there’s barely any news whatsoever: No Democrats have announced intentions to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, and Kinzinger himself hasn’t formalized plans to seek a sixth term.

Writing earlier this month for Crain’s Chicago Business, Greg Hinz said “Kinzinger’s team is ‘fully preparing to run … He’ll be in,’ ” quoting an insider who predicted an announcement in August and nominating petitions circulating right after Labor Day.

That clock is ticking —�loudly.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY … On Aug. 27, 1832, Sauk Chief Black Hawk, along with the prophet and military commander Wabokieshiek, surrendered to United States officials in Prairie du Chien, in present-day Wisconsin, ending what now is called the Black Hawk War. Although brief —�the conflict started in early April — it had lasting impact throughout this region, stretching west from Ottawa to the Mississippi River and north into present day Wisconsin.

That history is far too rich to do justice in this space. Retired Times reporter Charles Stanley wrote several useful pieces over the years about the many local connections. I also commend “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, which won the American Book Award in 2015, as a means of approaching the broader topic of America’s westward expansion from the perspective of those who lived on this land before colonialists arrived.

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August 27, 2019 at 06:56AM