Today is primary day in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune and I rarely agree on anything, but we do agree that Doug Truax is a better choice for the Republican nomination for Senate than Jim Oberweis.
If the Republican Party is to outgrow its loss of stature in Illinois, it needs to recruit and promote candidates who are more like Truax. At 43 he’s a West Point graduate, a former Army Ranger and captain, and majority owner of a small Oak Brook firm that helps employers address the costs of their health care, retirement and other benefits programs.
Truax projects confidence in what a growth-oriented federal agenda could accomplish: He stresses that without more vibrant economic activity, America won’t solve chronic joblessness. He impresses us with smart ideas for rescuing entitlement programs, curbing federal tax loopholes, and empowering states to expand school choice: “I favor charter schools and maximum flexibility for parents and students to escape bad schools and a cycle of poverty.” And as a health insurance consultant, Truax offers fresh and detailed proposals for accomplishing what Obamacare cannot: affordably providing good coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.
On many issues Truax isn’t far from his opponent, Jim Oberweis, a 67-year-old business executive who in 2012 won a seat in the Illinois Senate after five failed runs for higher offices: two earlier races for the U.S. Senate, two for the U.S. House and one for governor. Both men, that is, are mainstream conservative Republicans.
The two would, though, approach foreign affairs from different perspectives, and here Truax’s background gives him a distinct edge. While Oberweis last month told our editorial board he was “fairly satisfied with the direction” of Obama administration policies, Truax had answered our election questionnaire many weeks earlier with a comment many Republicans will see as prescient after Russia’s bold aggression in Ukraine:
“Our strong voice on the world stage is necessary — not to seek to become involved militarily, but to avert military involvement,” he wrote. “(A)s someone who is trained in military history, I know the consequences of weakness on the world stage. … I know that it tends to lead to instability and wars and that strength tends to lead to stability and peace.”
We’ve had a down-and-up history with Oberweis, most recently endorsing his 2012 run for state Senate. We wish that, after a year in that job, he hadn’t launched another bid for higher office. His best achievement in Springfield, a bill lifting the speed limit on some major roads, lost luster with the news that, since 1988, Oberweis has been ticketed for speeding 11 times.
Both Truax and Oberweis are pro-life conservatives, but that is where the resemblance ends. Oberweis is a bumbler with a long history of electoral defeat. He is a sure loser to the odious Dick Durbin in the fall. Truax is energetic and ready for a fight. If he gets the nomination he will give Durbin the fight of his life and might pull off an upset.