Oberweis becomes GOP candidate #5

Friday, July 18, 2003

By The Leader-Chicago Bureau (chicago@illinoisleader.com)

Jim Oberweis dropped into the Capitol during three-day fly around to announce he is joining the 2004 GOP race for the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Bob Wood, Springfield)
 
In the 2002 GOP primary to unseat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D), Oberweis (center) won the endorsement of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert(left). Pictured to the right is then-Congressman J.C. Watts (R-Oklahoma).
 
Dairy owner and investment guru Jim Oberweis of Aurora
CHICAGO -- On Thursday, dairy owner and financial investor Jim Oberweis announced he is adding his name to the list of candidates seeking the Illinois GOP's nomination to replace U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, who has decided he will not seek re-election in 2004.

Oberweis, now in the his second attempt to win the GOP's nod, faced two opponents in his last race -- former State Rep. Jim Durkin who won the primary election, and accountant/attorney John Cox, who came in third behind Durkin and Oberweis. Durkin, who ultimately won the GOP primary in 2002, lost to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin in the 2002 General Election.

This year, Oberweis joins four others who have officially opened their campaigns for the same GOP slot -- investor-turned-teacher Jack Ryan, physician and entrepeneur Chirinjeev Kathuria, Schwarz Company CEO Andy McKenna and CPA John Cox, who is also running again.

Oberweis, 56, has lost fifty pounds since the last campaign and has been planning yesterday's Chicago Stock Exchange announcement and the three day fly around the state for weeks.

"Jim has been meeting with potential supporters in all four corners of the state and in the nation's capital," spokesperson Kelly O'Brien said recently. "We were very pleased with the tremendous turnout we received in D.C. last week."

Being a statewide candidate once before, Oberweis already has made notable political connections, both locally and nationally. The New Republican Majority Fund, an influential political action committee based in Virginia, gave Oberweis $10,000 in the days and weeks after the 2002 GOP primary.

Oberweis received financial backing last year from the powerful U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Oswego) who not only gave him funds from his own campaign coffers, but pulled in $10,000 from his Keep Our Majority-PAC (KOM-PAC).

Oberweis declined last month to tell the Congressional news source The Hill whether Hastert will be supporting him in 2004. John Feehery, Hastert's spokesman, told The Hill that the Speaker "has yet to get behind a candidate."

Other political notables that contributed to Oberweis in 2002 include State Senator Steve Rauschenberger (R-Elgin) who gave Oberweis $400, Craig and Janet Duchossios, who gave him $1000 each, and the Duchossios Industry PAC that donated $10,000.

Altogether, Oberweis raised $233,309 in individual contributions and $37,400 in PAC contributions during the 2002 campaign. The vast majority of his 2002 funding was a loan he made to himself of $1 million.

Evidently, Jim Oberweis saw himself as a good investment.

Not only is Oberweis noted for his successful dairy business, he is well-respected for his knowledge and shrewdness in financial investing. He founded Oberweis Securities in the seventies and the firm has gained international attention.

Forbes.com recommends Oberweis' financial newsletter to its readers. The Oberweis Report features recommendations for stock investments.

Oberweis, who, at times, seems uncomfortable talking about social issues such as abortion and gun control, is completely at ease when talking about financial investments and business ventures.

He displays his expertise on stock recommendations on the Forbes website at Forbes Focus , and comfortably shares his enthusiasm about investing in Chico's clothing stores and Panera's Bakeries.

Oberweis' model portfolio, the Forbes.com video-taped segment says, has produced an average of 14.8% annual return on investments since 1988, compared to the Wilshire 5000's 11.1% annual gain.

During the summer months, Oberweis' family-owned business, Oberweis Dairy has stepped up a media campaign to promote new ice cream stores springing up throughout Illinois. At the same time new stores appear, residents in the surrounding areas are also receiving telemarketing calls to promote home deliveries of Oberweis products.

These marketing strategies are being scrutinized by fellow candidates, both Democrats and Republicans. The Oberweis campaign spokesperson Kelly O'Brien said that their lawyers had already been assessing any potential weaknesses of the advertising campaign and its timing, but have been counseled that the commercials were within the bounds of campaign law.

Oberweis himself ultimately decided that his decision to run for U.S. Senate should not hinder the company's expansion or undermine his employees' welfare and economic security. With that in mind, Oberweis gave the okay to proceed with the advertising campaign.

Oberweis, a who has an Master's in Business Administration from the University of Chicago is recently divorced, has five children, ranging in age from 34 to 23, and eight grandchildren.

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