If there is one thing you can say about the candidates running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, it’s probably this: name recognition counts for something.
That’s the message from a recent Chicago Tribune poll showing Jim Oberweis with a commanding lead over political newcomer Doug Truax for the right to take on longtime incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin.
The live telephone poll of 600 registered voters showed dairy magnate and investment manager Oberweis with 52 percent, compared to 15 percent for Truax. The poll also found Oberweis, who is in his seventh political campaign and his third try for the U.S. Senate seat, has 88 percent name recognition with voters. Meanwhile 52 percent said they had never heard of Truax, a military veteran and businessman running his first political campaign.
For his part, Truax got into the race in 2013 saying he was motivated by what he saw as the need to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Since then, he’s run a campaign driven more by themes attractive to Tea Party voters and activists than ones that might appeal to a broader, statewide electorate.
While hitting a number of traditional Republican and conservative points in his campaign—such as being pro-gun and for traditional marriage—Truax has seemingly placed the belief that in 2013 the IRS conducted a political with hunt against conservative groups at the forefront of his campaign, referring to the topic incessantly on social media and campaign interviews. He recently called for a halt to Internal Revenue Service bonuses, calling them an “affront to anyone who believes in the First Amendment.”
As well, both Truax and Oberweis are looking past each other and the Republican primary by spending the bulk of their campaign running against Durbin. Oberweis has touted his campaign’s “Throwback Thursday” concept, where his campaign examines what life was like in 1983 when Durbin began his political career. Truax, too, focuses on Durbin, carefully noting the senior Illinois senator’s pronouncements on Obamacare and campaign contributions, among other topics.
Both candidates are considered relative long shots to unseat Durbin, who has been in office since 1996, holds the second highest position in Democratic party leadership in the Senate, won his last race by almost 40 points and boasts fundraising help from the likes of Vice President Joe Biden.