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Jim Oberweis running for Senate, but wife votes in Florida: Sweet

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove)

State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove)

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Updated: December 21, 2013 6:41AM



WASHINGTON — GOP state Sen. Jim Oberweis told me Tuesday he is definitely making a U.S. Senate bid and, in an unusual twist, confirmed his wife, Julie, became a Florida resident because of the “tax advantages” of the Sunshine State.

Julie Oberweis voted in 2012 from Florida and ironically will not be able to cast a ballot for her husband next year.

“You can assume I am running,” Oberweis told me in a phone interview. The ice cream magnate said he has collected more than 10,000 signatures on nominating petitions for the March 18, 2014, Illinois Republican primary, twice the minimum needed to get on the ballot.

Oberweis’ main competition so far is Downers Grove businessman and former Army Ranger Doug Truax. The GOP nominee will take on Sen. Dick Durbin, first elected to the Senate in 1996 and seeking a fourth term next November. The field will soon be firmed up: The last day to file petitions is Dec. 2.

Oberweis is listed in state records as living on Ice Cream Drive in North Aurora. “I am an Illinois resident and intend to stay that way,” he told me.

His wife, however, Oberweis confirmed, spends winters at their condo in Bonita Springs, Fla., which they bought in 2010 for $1.3 million.

She became a Florida resident three years ago. “Obviously, there are tax advantages to being a Florida resident,” Oberweis told me. Oberweis, an anti-tax hawk, ticked off the Florida tax benefits: no state income tax and lower estate and property taxes.

He told me he and his wife file separate state income tax returns and joint federal income tax returns.

Oberweis was first elected to the state Senate in 2012, clinching his seat after five failed runs for other offices. Since he has a four-year term, he will not have to give up his Springfield spot to run for the U.S. Senate.

Julie Oberweis is featured on the homepage of her husband’s 2014 Senate political website, jimoberweis.com. Florida voting records show Julie Oberweis voted from their Lee County home in the January 2012 Florida primary and the 2012 general election.

I told Oberweis it seemed to me the unusual situation regarding his wife’s Florida residency could impact his Illinois Senate run. Voters may not appreciate the Oberweis tax-avoidance strategy.

Oberweis mentioned that Durbin’s wife, Loretta, is a Springfield lobbyist. He said his main primary campaign will focus on Durbin — not a GOP rival.

“Most of the residents in Illinois are concerned about health care,” Oberweis said. “And Mr. Durbin has been one of the biggest supporters of Obamacare.”

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