Oberweis wins GOP nomination, will take on Sen. Durbin - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Oberweis wins GOP nomination, will take on Sen. Durbin

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Jim Oberweis and Doug Truax. Jim Oberweis and Doug Truax.
Sen. Dick Durbin. Sen. Dick Durbin.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Voters chose Ill. Sen. Jim Oberweis to be the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Tuesday's primary election. Oberweis will take on Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin in November's general election.

The dairy magnate's victory over Chicago businessman Doug Truax sends Oberweis on to a matchup with the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

Republicans had a lot riding on Tuesday's Illinois primary, as the party fights to remain relevant in a state where Democrats hold almost all statewide offices and a substantial majority of congressional and legislative seats.

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One of the biggest decisions was to decide who has the best shot at unseating powerful, three-term Sen. Durbin.

State Senator Jim Oberweis, 67, is most well-known for his ice cream.

The Sugar Grove resident took over the family business, Oberweis Dairy, taking it from a small home delivery business with one ice cream store and 50 employees to 46 stores and more than 1,200 employees.

He insists he has the greatest name recognition because of the chain of ice cream shops his family owns and his previous campaigns for U.S. Senate.

Oberweis has run for public office six times, succeeding in 2012 when he won the race for State Senate to represent the 25th district. He's run for the opportunity to unseat Durbin twice, unsuccessful in both attempts.

The state senator said he has learned from prior missteps, including airing a political ad before a previous election in which he said the number of immigrants entering the U.S. illegally each week could fill Soldier Field.

Oberweis recently had to answer to critics. While Chicago was walloped with another snow storm, he spent the week before Tuesday's primary in sunny Florida with his wife. The couple is reported to own a home in The Sunshine State.

His opponent, Doug Truax, called him a "snow bird," flying away from the harsh reality of Chicago's cold.

Oberweis said in a statement that he made the trip as a promise to visit his wife for her birthday and to raise money for his U.S. Senate race. He has opened up and said in interviews he needs to also tend to his marriage, a very important part of his life.

Political newcomer Truax, 43, hoped being the fresh face in the race for the U.S. Senate seat would give him an edge on primary election day.

Truax's website boasts that he's a young conservative, a West Point and Army Ranger school grad and an Army veteran.

The Downer's Grove resident owns a health insurance consulting firm and is a self-proclaimed Obamacare expert. In fact, he's posted these videos on YouTube explaining why he says it won't work.

"Today you'll hear video from Illinoisans who have already been affected by Obamacare," Truax said. "Sadly they represent thousands that are in the same boat - here are their stories."

Truax hopes to maximize on what he describes as Sen. Durbin's "vulnerability." He said nearly 70 percent of the population is open to an alternative. He told FOX 32 News he hopes it's him. Truax has the support of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Peoria Republican.

Regarding the troubled economic environment, Truax said his experience as a private sector business owner is a benefit. He touts a successful Oak Brook-based strategic risk consulting firm that empowers employees by controlling their health care costs, benefits, retirement plans and business risks.

Though Truax struggled in the polls, this fresh face hoped to appeal to youth, women, independents and conservative Democrats - his recipe for success.

The GOP hopes to at least give Durbin a scare, but after 32 years in Washington, he has no primary opposition and a big war chest. Even so, some political observers consider Durbin vulnerable because he helped get President Barack Obama's troubled health care program signed into law.

The decision was also crucial because Oberweis' name will top the GOP ticket, just above a governor's race, which the party believes it can win after more than a decade of Democratic control.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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