Illinois GOP Senate Primary Could Show Political Potency of Obamacare
by Michael Patrick Leahy 17 Mar 2014, 5:03 PM PDT
A long-shot challenger in the Illinois GOP senate primary has based his candidacy against a moderate Republican almost entirely on Obamacare repeal, and the results in Tuesday's election could speak to voter intensity on the subject.
Political newcomer Doug Truax is, according to the polls, far behind state senator Jim Oberweis, which political analysts largely attribute to name recognition. But Truax is trying to draw a last-minute contrast with Oberweis on healthcare and a surprisingly good showing from him may underscore the potency of the push.
Meanwhile, Oberweis, who is so confident in the election results he traveled to Florida this past week, actually supports parts of Obamacare, according to a spokesperson.
"Jim believes there are a few good parts of Obamacare, such as staying on your parents' insurance until you are 26. He also believe that insuring individuals with pre-existing conditions and creating a competitive environment by allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines are good," an Oberweis spokesperson told Breitbart News Monday.
Truax and Oberweis are vying to become a long-shot challenger to face Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in November's general election.
Though Mark Kirk's victory in 2010 gave Illinois one Republican in the Senate, the state has not been represented in that body by two Republicans at the same time since 1970.
The most recent poll released by the Chicago Tribune on March 9 gave Oberweis a significant 52 percent to 18 percent lead over Truax, little changed from a February poll in which his lead was 52 percent to 15 percent.
While Oberweis was in Florida Thursday, the Tribune reported that "the contrast [between the two campaigns] was highlighted when Truax’s spokesman, Dan Curry, was struck in the head by falling ice in downtown Chicago while on his way to a radio appearance. Curry was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released."
Though a 34 percent deficit may be more than Truax can overcome in less than two weeks, the poll showed that one fourth of likely Republican primary voters were still undecided. In addition, as a 43-year-old newcomer, Truax offers a marked contrast to the 67-year-old Oberweis, who has lost two previous tries for the United States Senate, one try for Governor, and one try for Congress.
Besides the issues, Truax has one big advantage over Oberweis–in-depth professional knowledge of healthcare. A graduate of West Point, Truax has built a small business that makes $2 million a year in revenue by providing advice to companies on how to manage their health care costs.
Truax is using that expertise to build his entire campaign around his opposition to Obamacare.
That strategy worked for David Jolly (R-FL), who recently won a special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District over a much better-funded and well known Democrat, Alex Sink.
Truax is betting his singular attacks on Obamacare will help his under-financed campaign beat Oberweis's in Tuesday's Republican primary and Durbin in the November general election.
In an exclusive interview, Truax told Breitbart News Thursday that "the tipping point" in his decision to enter the political arena "was Christmas Eve 2009 when the Senate came up with their version of Obamacare."
"Health care is what I do for a living," he said. "Because I understand it, I knew we had to redo everything [they did in that bill], because it just wouldn't work." For Truax, the debacle of the Obamacare launch and its current disarray continues to prove his point every day.
When Truax first told his friends he wanted to take on Dick Durbin, they were not encouraging. "Last time he trounced the other guy by a mile. Why would you take that on?" they asked.
"I was saying shortly after Obamacare passed this is going to be horrible," Truax said.
Truax acknowledges that Oberweis is still considered the favorite. "Oberweis has a chain of ice cream stores [and] 90-percent name recognition. When I started this race, my name recognition was zero."
"On March 5, the Chicago Tribune endorsed me. Congressman Aaron Shock (R-IL) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich have endorsed me," Truax told Breitbart.
"I've been all over the state to Lincoln Day dinners. We have ten coordinators around the state. Fourteen of the eighteen townships in the collar [the conservative communities surrounding Chicago] have endorsed me. Their committee men are walking our literature door to door. Two-hundred-thousand walking cards have gone out the door,” he said.
Truax acknowledged "we didn't have the luxury of knocking on all [the primary voter] doors."
Truax said that the big variable for the primary election on Tuesday will be how voters respond to his opponent Oberweis's being in Florida for much of the week before the election. A spokesperson for the Oberweis campaign told Breitbart News the trip to Florida will have no impact on Tuesday's election.
"He's coasting on name identification. He's ducked out on all the debates," Truax said of Oberweis.
Truax predicted, "I think I am going to beat him just barely."
Then, he says, he will turn his sights on Durbin.
"I believe we're in for a wave election," Truax said. "This is a unique time with the economy and Obamacare. Because it's a midterm there will be one million fewer voters, most of whom are Democrats."
"I can nationalize the election around Obamacare since I'm a health insurance expert," Truax concluded. "Obamacare is the demonstration of top-down government control, then you add on the IRS and the NSA and all these things that are coming out of DC, and voters are fed up with it," he said.
A spokeperson for the Oberweis campaign told Breitbart News on Monday that State Senator Oberweis will also focus on opposition to Obamacare, but offered his praise for certain parts of the law as noted above.
The spokesperson added that "[State Senator Oberweis] favors repeal and replacing it with something that works."
If he wins the primary on Tuesday, Oberweis will also attack Senator Durbin for his support of Obamacare. According to the spokesperson, "Dick Durbin said on the floor if you like your healthcare you can keep it, and that was a lie to the American public."
Tuesday's Republican Senate primary election in Illinois may be an early indicator of the intensity with which voters oppose Obamacare. In many respects, the outcome will be a canary in the coal mine for Obamacare.
If Oberweis wins by a comfortable margin, as the polls predict, it will be an indication that a complete rejection of every element of Obamacare, without sufficient financial resources, may not be sufficient to win elections in 2014. However, if Truax comes close or pulls off a huge upset, it may be a second recent sign from the voters of a coming anti-Obamacare electoral tidal wave.