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Oberweis weighing another challenge to Durbin

Jim Oberweis

Jim Oberweis

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Updated: October 28, 2013 7:21AM



State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) said he wasn’t planning to make a run against U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. But he could be persuaded.

A privately commissioned We Ask America poll conducted this week showed Oberweis, 67, trailing Durbin by 11 percentage points. Of those surveyed, 38.6 percent said they would back Oberweis and 49.9 percent said they would support the Springfield Democrat.

“Look, if I believe or I’m convinced I can help our party, I will be there, absolutely. I will run for the Senate seat,” Oberweis told the Sun-Times on Wednesday. “I’m hoping to get a copy, more information on the poll, to try to understand that. I will be talking to other Republican contributors. It’s going to take a lot of money. … While I would contribute significant assets myself, I don’t have the kinds of assets to beat him.”

Oberweis said “a number of groups and individuals” have talked to him about possibly running, but he still would need to know Republican donors were committed to him.

“Mr. Durbin obviously has a large war chest. And it would be a very difficult challenge,” Oberweis conceded.

Oberweis was elected to the state Senate last year. Before that, he made five attempts at public office, including the U.S. Senate, the governor’s mansion and Congress. In 2002, he lost the Republican primary for U.S. Senate to state Rep. Jim Durkin, who went on to lose to Durbin.

Durbin, 68, the Senate Majority Whip — No. 2 in the upper chamber — has been in the U.S. Senate since 1997. He is personally close to President Barack Obama, raises money with ease and already has $4.2 million in his warchest.

“I was surprised at how close the poll numbers were,” Oberweis said. “Obviously, he’s been a bastion of liberal politics and a supporter of Obamacare. Perhaps it’s just a referendum on Mr. Durbin.”

Gregg Durham, Chief Operating Officer of We Ask America, said he’s been besieged by calls after the conservative blog “Illinois Review” published the poll numbers. Durham said the poll was commissioned by someone other than Oberweis or ex-congressman Joe Walsh — who was also measured in the survey, however, those numbers were not released.

“This poll only tested two possible names against Dick Durbin and was not a complete survey from the standpoint from testing the positives and negatives. You have to look at this as a type of name recognition,” Durham told the Sun-Times, saying that Oberweis has name recognition because of his ice cream stores. “In some ways, does this test Dick Durbin against ice cream? Sure, everyone loves ice cream.”

Email: @natashakorecki

Twitter: nkorecki@suntimes.com



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