A new Republican candidate for Congress has catapulted herself into the national media spotlight, vying to displace Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. 26-year-old Catalina Lauf, billing herself as “Latina by heart, American first,” is running to challenge Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District.
Who is she, and why is she exciting conservative media? Here are five things to know about Catalina Lauf:
1. Who is Catalina Lauf?
According to the biography on her campaign website, Lauf was born and raised in Woodstock, Illinois. Her father is a small-business owner from Chicago, and her mother and grandmother are legal immigrants from Guatemala. She graduated from McHenry County College with an associate’s degree at only 17 years old and completed a bachelor’s degree at Miami University of Ohio. From there, Lauf went to work for the ride-sharing service Uber before being appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as an adviser to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
After leaving the Trump administration, she returned to Illinois and is now running for Congress as one of the youngest Republican candidates in the 2020 election cycle.
2. What’s her district like? Who’s her opponent? Can she win?
Lauf is running in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, currently represented by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood. The district is west of Chicago, covering parts of DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties. Underwood is a freshman Democrat elected to Congress in 2018, defeating four-term incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren in what many pundits considered an upset victory. As an incumbent, she is most well known in Congress for controversial remarks accusing the Trump administration of intentionally killing migrant children.
During a congressional hearing, Underwood confronted acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan about the deaths of five illegal immigrant children in ICE detention centers.
“Congress has been more than willing to provide resources and to work with you to address the security and humanitarian concerns,” she said. “But at this point, with five kids that have died, 5,000 separated from their families, I feel like, and the evidence is really clear, that this is intentional. It’s intentional. It’s a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it’s cruel and inhumane.”
Lauf told Fox News that Underwood’s comments were “disgusting” and show how nationally elected Democrats have demonized federal law enforcement.
Underwood is also a vocal supporter of launching a congressional investigation into impeaching President Trump.
The Cook Political Report rates the 14th as a “toss up” district for 2020, making this race winnable for Republicans and a battleground election for control of the House of Representatives. Lauf faces six other registered Republican candidates in the congressional primary election, including two state lawmakers.
3. What is she running for?
In the opening ad of her campaign, Lauf says she’s a “product of the American dream,” and she’s running to defend it.
Some may say I don’t fit the mold, but I’m a product of the American Dream. Today we see that Dream under attack from the divisive far-left. I’m running for Congress to defend the promise of the American Dream. Join me today ➡️ https://t.co/Gwp1E58Kwg
This is #ourfutureourfight pic.twitter.com/FkM6SeDDQI
— Catalina Lauf (@CatalinaLauf) August 22, 2019
“Today, angry voices seek to divide us by skin color, economic class, and where we come from. They use envy and bitterness, trying to convince us to surrender our personal freedoms for the false promises of socialism,” Lauf narrates.
Lauf criticizes her potential opponent Underwood as one of several Democrats dividing Americans by calling Republicans racist and sexist.
“They forget that America is an idea, an idea that we are all created equal and that what we have in common is far more powerful than any of our differences,” Lauf says.
She expanded on her message of unity in an interview with Fox News, pledging to counter the Democrats’ divisive political attacks.
“I plan to offer a counter to that message, one that doesn’t tear others down, but lifts all of us up,” she said. “A message that focuses on what brings us together, not our differences, and how that commonality will help us get things done for our constituents and preserve the promise of the American Dream.”
4. Where is Lauf on the issues?
Lauf is a self-described “lifelong conservative.” With a background in small business, she is making entrepreneurship and economic opportunity central to her campaign. Over the weekend on Fox & Friends, Lauf said, “There’s a lot of regulation and so much tax that really hinders the innovation that entrepreneurs can have.”
“I’m a very big proponent of entrepreneurship and small business and that’s a big platform of mine. My district has a lot of small business owners and we need to ensure we’re creating an environment that really fosters that growth,” she added.
In an extensive interview with the Daily Wire, Lauf said, “I stand with President Trump on securing our border and closing loopholes in our broken immigration system.” She criticized the Green New Deal as “ineffective” and “harmful to American families.” Lauf firmly rejects socialism, calling it “a strong contrast to everything that makes America great,” and said Republicans must offer the country the American dream as an alternative.
Notably, Lauf expressed a willingness to criticize Republicans who move to the left after winning elections.
QUESTION: What areas of the Republican Party’s platform do you think need to be addressed, and/or changed?
LAUF: We need to stop compromising on our values. I’m disappointed when Republicans get cornered on an issue and cave to the other side. For example, the Violence Against Women Act. Of course, progressives named it that for obvious reasons, as a smokescreen so if anyone who voted against it they could immediately jump on them and say “Oh you’re against women?” Well, there’s more to that story. The “boyfriend loophole” proposed a serious threat against our Constitution. We need people who will not cave, put our Constitution first, and stand up to pressure from the Left. I’m committed to doing that. Republicans, Americans as a whole frankly, deserve strong leaders. If you’ve been elected to be the voice of hundreds of thousands of people, your voice better be as powerful as hundreds of thousands of those people combined. That’s leadership.
Lauf also announced her legislative priorities: “Expanding our Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, finding ways to cut entitlement spending, and fostering a friendly economic environment, especially for our small businesses. Fixing our broken immigration system and ensuring Congress is supporting our President’s agenda of having safe and secure borders.”
5. What’s her strategy to win?
Lauf firmly believes that Republicans must engage with minority and young voters to win in 2020 and beyond. As she told the Daily Wire:
Minorities are going to be the majority of the population by 2044. It’s time we focus on uniting minorities to join our freedom message. That no matter where you come from, no matter what color your skin is, as citizens of the United States, we are all Americans first. A way to do that is by continuing upon the successes of this Administration when it comes to the economy. We all want jobs; we all want opportunity; we all want our communities to thrive.
Economic freedom and opportunity. Strong borders and law enforcement. Unity in the face of divisive attacks from the Left and false promises of socialism. These are the themes Lauf is running for Congress on, and her determination to advance these conservative principles makes her a candidate to watch.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
Send tips and hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.