SUGAR GROVE - Despite there being at least two Republicans passing petitions to be the party's nominee to challenge U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in 2014, a friendly discussion emerged this week between two other Republicans - State Senator Jim Oberweis and former Congressman Joe Walsh. The two are contemplating if either should get in the race with the perennial conservative candidate Chad Koppie or first-time candidate Wheaton businessman Doug Truax, both already passing nomination petitions.
Word is 2014 down-ballot candidates are worried that primary voter turnout could be depressed if a name and a competitive race are not at the top of the ticket next March.
Earlier this week, a We Ask America poll revealed Oberweis as within 11 points of incumbent Democrat Durbin and Walsh as behind 18 points. Walsh has been looking at a possible Congressional challenge of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Oswego) as well as a bid against Durbin.
Oberweis suggested to the Daily Herald that he and Walsh should play a hand of poker, and the "loser would run against Durbin" in 2014.
Longtime political junkies may have heard a ring of familiarity with those "game on" words from Oberweis in reference to a political primary. That's because he offered a similar remedy to a competitive primary for governor in 2006. That year, Oberweis suggested the primary contenders save a lot of money and effort by "drawing straws" rather than battle against party colleagues. That year, Oberweis came in second in a multi-candidate battle to run against Rod Blagojevich.
As the 2006 GOP candidates for governor fanned out across the state on the final weekend of the campaign, contenders Bill Brady and Ron Gidwitz said Oberweis early last week proposed a game of chance to decide which of the three should stay in the race with front-runner Judy Baar Topinka. Brady and Gidwitz said the odds were heavily stacked in Oberweis' favor, a Chicago Tribune story reported.
"He wanted 10 straws and Brady and I each would have one straw," Gidwitz said Saturday, before the Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade. He said Oberweis wanted 10 straws "because he's the leader and because neither one of us is, in his mind, in contention."
Gidwitz, a Chicago businessman, called the request "absurd" but said Oberweis was "totally serious" about it. Brady, a state senator from Bloomington and, like Oberweis, a conservative, said he received a similar request to draw straws.
"He said, `If God wanted you to be the candidate, it wouldn't matter how many straws you have,'." Brady recalled Oberweis saying. "I said, `Jim, I'm not interested.' It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. The people of Illinois need to decide who the nominee should be, not straws."