CHICAGO – Illinois Republicans chose state senator and dairy magnate Jim Oberweis to challenge powerful, three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in November, as the party fights to remain relevant in a state in which Democrats hold almost all statewide offices and a substantial majority of congressional and legislative seats.
Oberweis, 67, of Sugar Grove, insisted he had greater name recognition than his primary opponent, Downers Grover businessman and political newcomer Doug Truax, because of the chain of ice cream shops his family owns and his previous campaigns for U.S. Senate.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Oberweis had 406,368 votes to Truax’s 319,323.
Oberweis, who said he would serve no more than two terms in the Senate if elected, said he hopes to help the GOP retake control of the U.S. Senate to “change the direction of this country.”
Truax, who owns a health insurance consulting firm, had the support of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.
The GOP hopes to at least give Durbin a scare, but after 32 years in Washington, he has no primary opposition and a big war chest. Even so, some political observers consider Durbin vulnerable because he helped get President Barack Obama’s troubled health care program signed into law.