Thursday, October 10, 2013

Will Oberweis make a third try for U.S. Senate seat? His ego is on overdrive

I happen to live within a short drive of an Oberweis Dairy store, and a part of me feels like I should start spending more money there in coming months.

OBERWEIS: State Senate not big enough!
Not only would I get quality dairy products (the ice cream truly is good, and I enjoy a banana milk shake ever now and again), but I would be bolstering the chance that state Sen. James Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, will feel compelled to run for higher office.

SPECIFICALLY, HE’S CONSIDERING yet another bid for the U.S. Senate.

He tells the Illinois Review website that he’s “90 percent in” for a challenge to Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who will seek a fourth six-year term in the Senate come next year’s election cycle.

Now it always is true that a long-serving legislator runs the risk of staying around too long – and is vulnerable based on the idea that the people are sick of him and would like to try someone new.

Now in his 17th year in the Senate (following nearly a decade representing a central Illinois-based House district – he lives in Springfield proper), Dick Durbin is somebody who has been around for quite a while. Who knows how people will feel about him 13 months from now.

BUT THE IDEA that Oberweis feels compelled to take on Durbin? It strikes me as somebody who’s desperate to be a “name” player in politics. He’s more interested in having the office on his list of accomplishments, than actually using the post to try to accomplish something that could be for the good of the public.

That was the attitude that came through clearly in his bids for the Senate in 2002 and 2004, his try for governor in 2006 and his attempt to fill a U.S. House seat in 2008.

All of those were electoral defeats, with the latter being the most embarrassing because he actually had the support of one-time House Speaker Dennis Hastert to be his replacement in Congress. The people preferred Bill Foster.

DURBIN: A 4th term in U.S. Senate?
Although in the others, Oberweis couldn’t even make it past the primary election. He became the political choice of people who want conservative ideologue rants to dictate U.S. policy.

HE’S THE MAN who will be forever remembered for that campaign commercial flying around and around Soldier Field while raging about the fill foreigners who slip into the United States each day who could pack the stadium.

Not exactly sound basis for government policy.

Which is why the only victory that Oberweis has experienced politically has been in the 2012 election cycle when he got elected to replace retiring state Rep. Chris Lauzen. He’s finally a government official.

Although being one of 59 members of the Illinois Senate doesn’t seem to be good enough for him. He’s determined to have a title that he thinks is worthy of his presence.

WHICH WOULD EXPLAIN his desire to be the GOP Senate nominee next year. All of the serious Republican political attention is going toward challenging Pat Quinn in the governor’s campaign.

Nobody of any political experience has expressed interest in challenging Durbin. Which would mean that unless someone else comes up, Oberweis would easily be the best (self-)financed campaign, and could easily make it past a primary and get on the general election ballot for a major statewide race.

Not that I think Oberweis poses much of a challenge. He has too much of a negative record from the past campaigns that he more than likely would add to with a new campaign for Senate.

I don’t think anybody except for Oberweis himself thinks he’s particularly qualified for the post. The man has an ego worthy of his ice cream parlors.

AND SINCE HIS campaigns in the past have been the type that were heavily self-funded, my adding to his business wealth may further bolster his ego to the point where he runs against Durbin.

Except for those who are delusional enough to think that the ideologue rhetoric appeals to more than an overly-vocal portion of our society, I’d have to argue that an Oberweis campaign virtually ensures that we get a Durbin victory (and makes Dick a man who will wind up serving more than a third of a century representing the interests of Illinois in Washington). His campaigns likely will be nothing more than "It's Time to Dump Dick Durbin," rather than any say about what he would do if elected.

An old Chris Lauzen leaflet that could be recycled
If Oberweis had some self-control over his ego, he’d stay in the state Senate for a term or two. Perhaps he could even gain that bit of experience that could someday make himself a worthy candidate for a statewide office. There are those who speculate he could be state comptroller upon the retirement of Judy Baar Topinka. Except that the business-oriented types like he and gubernatorial dreamer Bruce Rauner don't get (nor do they want to) just how business and government are different, and the latter shouldn't be trying to behave like the former.

Which is why he may well make this bid, and add to his string of political defeats!


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