When incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin defeated Republican Steve Sauerberg in a landslide in 2008, William Lee, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force living in Rockton, IL, did something the state GOP was not yet prepared to do: he looked to 2014.
Lee, 55, is now a candidate for senate himself, seeking the Republican nomination in the March 18 primary next year. He said he began to consider the run after seeing Durbin, the U.S. Senate Majority Whip, easily win reelection nearly five years ago. He also pointed to a failure to run conservative candidates as a reason for Durbin’s and other Democrats’ electoral success.
“I’m running to give people in Illinois a choice,” Lee said. “Dr. Sauerberg got 30 percent of the vote, and he decided to go moderate. Then the Constitution Party and Libertarian Party decided to put up a candidate.”
“The Illinois Republican Party has made peace with the Democrats. The people in Illinois don’t see that they really have a choice.”
Lee is running on a fiscally and socially conservative platform, as he outlines his positions on many key issues on his website. In addition, he cited recent comments by Durbin about First Amendment rights, as well as the senator’s stances on gun control and energy policy as what should be major points of debate if he wins the primary and faces Durbin next November.
“[Durbin] doesn’t represent Illinois,” Lee said. “He represents Harry Reid in Nevada. [As Senator] I would be available to anyone who calls the office. Constituent service would be the big thing.”
Lee will have at least one challenger in the primary, with Downers Grove business owner and West Point graduate Doug Truax announcing this week his intentions to also seek the Republican nomination. Lee said in Truax’s announcement and on his campaign site that “he uses a lot of words to say nothing,” but he also acknowledges that Truax may be the preferred choice of the party.
Paul Burt, a Lake Forest Republican, is rumored to be interested in a 2014 bid, but has not officially declared, and retired airline pilot Chad Koppie announced his intentions earlier this year.
Lee, who has never held elected office, acknowledges his “outsider” status heading into election season and said he wants to “test the proposition that an average person can get the support of the people.” Moreover, he said he believes sending another politician to Washington would not offer different results.
“That’s why I’m running,” Lee said. “Because no one is representing us and no one is stopping government abuses and oppression.”
More information on Lee and his campaign can be found at williamlee2014.org.