The Daily Illini Online
published Monday, August 24, 2003

GOP senate race heats up long before Illinois primary

Evan Mclaughlin
Deputy news editor

Photo (read caption below)
Katy Mull The Daily Illini

Jim Oberweis, Illinois Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, high-fives Christina Tobin of Winona, Minn., as her father Jim, of Berwyn, Ill., watches Saturday at the Round Barn Banquet Center in Champaign. Of the high-five, Christina said, "I don't think many other candidates would do that."

Although Illinois' U.S. Senate primary isn't until March 2004, candidates are already on the campaign trail to replace U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, who is not seeking re-election.

The Illinois Forum's 14th Anniversary Luncheon Saturday brought six Republican candidates to Champaign-Urbana to lay out their platforms at the Round Barn Banquet Center, 1900 Round Barn Rd., Champaign.

The Illinois Forum is a grassroots nonpartisan conservative organization that seeks to promote a smaller, more responsible state government.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. John Borling, businessman and physician Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, paper company president Andy McKenna, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis, state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, R-Elgin, and investment banker-turned-teacher Jack Ryan spoke at the luncheon.

CBS Chicago recently named Jim Oberweis as the leading Republican primary candidate. Most know him as the man behind Oberweis Dairy ice cream shops across the state.

Oberweis is a University alumnus with a degree in political science whose three children also graduated from the University. A former teacher, he went into politics after college before buying the then-fledgling Oberweis business from his brother and now plans on returning to the political world. He ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2002.

Kathuria, who immigrated to America from India when he was eight months old, said the reason he's running "is to give back this great country what it gave to my family."

Kathuria hopes to use the Senate seat to build jobs in the state, specifically working with small businesses, and to promote Social Security retirement accounts where people get a good return on the money they put into Social Security.

He said he is also interested in using space and satellite-based reconnaissance systems to combat the War on Terrorism. One of his business ventures involves "space tourism" and his company was the first to send civilians into space.

Rauschenberger said he hopes to change the state's budget situation with his candidacy, especially concerning education.

"The current budget was put together behind closed doors by a small group of people in Chicago, people who don't understand the state's obligation to the educational system," Rauschenberger said.

Rauschenberger said the Republicans need someone like him in office who supports President George W. Bush, can build relationships with the administration there and can be an advocate for problems in Illinois.

Ryan, a native of Wilmette, Ill., was a partner at Goldman Sachs investment firm in Chicago before he started teaching English literature, pre-law and other subjects at Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago, which has put 100 percent of its students in positions to attend college for the past six years.

Ryan said he would like to specifically work on three issues: "making sure we agressively pursue the War on Terrorism," promoting capitalism because that is in his opinion the only way "everyone has a chance at a high quality of life," and increasing jobs.

McKenna said he would like to provide tax relief for every American and promote free trade, but pointed out he was running first and foremost as a parent of four children.

Last to speak was Borling, who has spent 37 years in the military in over 25 countries on five continents. He said the Republican party "appeal(s) to the best instincts of Americans," echoing similar statements said by other candidates to support the party.

Borling said he wanted to focus on the future of the party and strive for them to be "idealists without illusions."

To view more information on these and other candidates, visit

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