U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is in a good position to win a fourth term serving Illinois this November, despite possibilities that Republicans will take hold of the Senate and weeks of negative attacks by opponent Jim Oberweis.
A new Chicago Tribune voter poll reveals that Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, leads Oberweis by 23 percentage points, with 55 percent intending to vote for the incumbent and 32 percent supporting Oberweis. Seven percent said they were undecided on whom to support at the ballot box Nov. 4. Five percent backed Libertarian candidate Sharon Hansen in her bid for senator.
Last week, Oberweis—a state senator and dairy magnate from Chicago's western suburbs—took a major tumble when Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a member of the Republican Senatorial Committee, which offers election-season support to candidates, said Oberweis' campaign wasn't a priority for the party. (Translation: We consider Durbin a lock, so we're focusing attention to contenders who stand a chance of winning.)
While Durbin released his first re-election ad several days ago, making no mention of Oberweis, his challenger has been on the attack since the summer with a media blitz painting the Washington power-player as a career politician in the same vein as Richard Nixon.
Following the anti-Durbin offensive, Oberweis—a political conservative who previously launched two failed bids for U.S. senator, one for U.S. representative and one for Illinois governor—saw his prospects brighten earlier this month when a Chicago Sun-Times survey showed a narrowing, seven-point gap between the rivals.
At the time, Durbin's spokesman told Ward Room: "Our internal numbers show a larger gap; however, as we approach Election Day we're going to keep working hard to share Sen. Durbin's message of a fair shot for everyday Illinoisans. Despite the flaws of the Sun-Times poll, one thing is clear: perennial candidate Jim Oberweis is significantly behind in the polls because of his radical tea party agenda."
Eyeing Durbin's Chicago voting bloc, the senator's most loyal, Oberweis nonethless managed to secure the improbable endorsement of Chicago pastor and South Side activist Corey Brooks, who began supporting the candidate last May after Oberweis participated in an event for Brooks' anti-violence initiative in the tough Woodlawn neighborhood.
— Corey Brooks (@CoreyBBrooks) September 13, 2014
On Monday morning Durbin is expected to announce endorsements from "dozens of faith leaders" on Chicago's South Side, according to his campaign.