CHICAGO - Democrat U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he's taking State Sen. Jim Oberweis more seriously than any challenger since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate nearly two decades ago.
Accordingly, Durbin has been staffing field offices, hiring social media professionals, and banking more than $6 million. "I'm not going to have anybody at the end of this campaign say, 'He didn't take it seriously,'" said Durbin.
But as the Southern Illinoisan notes, there may be more to Durbin's plan than just playing it safe. Some believe Durbin could be gearing up to exploit the schism between conservative and liberal Republicans by tying Oberweis and Rauner together. Doing so helps Durbin and the Democrats raise money, and increase Democrat turnout. Something that could have a negative affect on down-ballot GOP candidates.
Durbin says he'll be focusing immigration reform, minimum wage, and on his record of creating Illinois government jobs, such as helping reopen Thomson Correctional Center and securing a $70 million taxpayer-funded federal grant to create a research center for digital manufacturing in Chicago.
Oberweis told the Associated Press that he thinks Durbin is beatable. "People are fed up with career politicians," Oberweis said, noting that Durbin has served in Congress and the state Legislature for more than three decades. "I think I have as good a chance as anyone."
As to illegal immigration, Oberweis says he has changed his stance. He now supports a path to citizenship for children who were brought to the country illegally and grew up here and believes their parents should be allowed to have non-immigrant visas but not amnesty.
And on the issue of jobs? Businessman Oberweis says he welcomes a debate about jobs. "Yes, I want to talk about that all day long," he said.