Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Finger-pointing Erupts Over Jim Oberweis' Next Defeat

Perennial Republican candidate currently enjoys a winning percentage of 16.6%

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Finger-pointing Erupts Over Jim Oberweis' Next Defeat

Before writing this blog post about a potential run for U.S. Senate by perennial candidate Jim Oberweis, I had to pull out a pad and pencil and do some figuring.

How many times, I wondered, had Republican Oberweis run for office and lost before today?

Well, there was the 2002 primary campaign for U.S. Senate, which he lost.

Then he ran again in the 2004 primary for U.S. Senate, and lost.

In 2006, he sought the Republican nomination for governor, and lost.

When U.S. Representative Denny Hastert resigned in 2007, Oberweis wanted his seat. He ran in a special election to replace Hastert in 2008, and lost. He then lost in the general election for a full term.

In 2012, Oberweis ran for State Senator from the 25th District in Illinois, and won.

For those of you counting at home, that five losses and one victory, for a winning percentage of 16.66 percent.

And now, apparently, Oberweis wants to lower his batting average to 14.28 percent, or one out of seven.

Bernard Schoenberg of the State Journal-Register in Springfield reports of a dust-up between a group of old political insiders over who encouraged Oberweis to once again run for office, this time against popular Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin in 2014.

Word has it Republican financier Ron Gidwitz, who currently serves as Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s finance chairman, encouraged Oberweis to run, thinking it would take him out of a race in 2016 against Illinois’ other senator, Republican Mark Kirk.

Judging from his record, it likely didn’t take very much arm-twisting by anyone to get Oberweis, a successful investment manager and dairy magnate, to make another run at elected office.

But that doesn’t stop this state's gaggle of political power-brokers from getting into a pissing match over who’s going to be responsible once Oberweis’ ego once again proves bigger than his appeal to voters.

Gidwitz said he’s told Oberweis to run a validating poll on the “probably four or five separate occasions” when Oberweis asked for support.

Oberweis remembers things in quite a different way. He said many people were encouraging him to consider a run, and Gidwitz “was trying to talk me into running” before the poll was done. Afterward, Oberweis said, Gidwitz sent an email saying “the poll was strong and he thought that was enough to encourage me to run.”

Oberweis thinks the Gidwitz story changed because some in the “establishment wing” of the Republican Party believe Oberweis on top of the ticket could draw more conservatives to the polls, helping governor candidates BILL BRADY or KIRK DILLARD. Gidwitz is finance chairman of BRUCE RAUNER’S gubernatorial campaign.

Personally, I get a little tired of the insider’s game politicians in this state play when it comes to deciding who’s going to be placed in front of voters for elected office.

Clearly, Oberwies’ view of his own electability is driven more by desire for high office than it is from a groundswell of support among voters for his policies, or else his track record wouldn't be what it is.

But that doesn’t stop the old hands from jockeying for position—months before an election is even held to hear what the voters have to say—about who’s up, who’s down and who’s going to take the blame for who’s failures.


Quite frankly, sometimes it doesn't even seem like what's best for voters figures into the equation.
 

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