“From calling for the full repeal of our health care system to lobbying to eliminate health insurance for kids, perennial candidate Jim Oberweis has a dangerous record of pushing reckless policies that would hurt middle class families,” said DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos. “Meanwhile, Illinoisans know that no one is more focused on improving our health care system than registered nurse and former public health official Lauren Underwood. I am so proud to have Lauren as a part of the Illinois delegation and I look forward to continuing to fight alongside her to lower health care and prescription drug costs.”
To: Interested Parties
From: Brooke Goren, DCCC Regional Press Secretary
Date: March 18, 2020
Subject: The Case Against Jim Oberweis
Last night’s primary results in Illinois’ 14th Congressional District show a failure by Republicans to put up a credible nominee, and cement Rep. Lauren Underwood’s strong prospects for re-election in this rapidly changing, largely suburban seat.
With an outstanding FEC complaint over an alleged “campaign laundering scheme,” Oberweis is a perennial candidate embroiled in corrupt-as-usual Springfield politics. It’s no secret Oberweis was forced to pour hundreds of thousands of his own money to buy the GOP nomination and now in his seventh run for public office he will, once again, face questions about using his Florida residence to dodge paying taxes in Illinois.
Illinoisans are going to have nauseating déjà vu as they watch Oberweis run another general election campaign on his long record of opposing legislation that cut prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients and pushing for full repeal of our health care system, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
While Oberweis has spent years trying to climb the political ladder at the expense of middle-class Illinoisans, Rep. Underwood has built a strong brand as a tireless advocate for access to quality, affordable health care. The first person of color and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress, Rep. Underwood is a registered nurse and former Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After running and winning in 2018 on her commitment to protect the Affordable Care Act, lower health care costs, and fight for economic opportunity across her district, she has quickly built an unrivaled record of making good on those promises in Congress.
A strong fundraiser who has proven that she can vastly outperform the top of the ticket, Rep. Underwood has done the work to put herself in a prime position for re-election in November.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
HEADLINE: Trump signs two of Underwood’s bills into law. [My Suburban Life, 12/30/19]
HEADLINE: Underwood raises nearly $880,000 in fourth quarter. [Herald-News, 2/4/20]
HEADLINE: In 14th Congressional District GOP battle, state Sen. Sue Rezin accuses state Sen. Jim Oberweis of scheme to circumvent donation rules [Chicago Tribune, 3/5/20]
HEADLINE: Jim Oberweis’ Florida Home Raises Residency Questions. [NBC Chicago, 3/12/14]
Oberweis: “I would support a repeal of Obamacare.” [Chicago Tribune, 2/19/20]
“When [Oberweis] finally got elected to something…he could have served a term and built a record. Instead, he quickly jumped into the next campaign.” [Chicago Tribune Editorial, 10/17/14]
Jim Oberweis: A Perennial Candidate and Threat to Illinoisans Health Care
A PROVEN THREAT TO ILLINOISANS’ HEALTH CARE
Time and again, voters have named quality, affordable health care as the number one issue keeping them awake at night. In response, Jim Oberweis has spent more than a decade running for office and staking out extreme health care positions that would hurt millions of Illinoisans.
Oberweis has doubled down on his support for repealing our current health care system, a move that would gut protections for 327,300 people in IL-14 with pre-existing conditions, leave millions of Americans without access to critical services, and raise prescription drug costs. That is a stark contrast to Rep. Underwood who has made protecting and improving our health care system a core focus of her work in Congress.
As a candidate for Governor in 2006, Oberweis sought to eliminate All Kids, a state sponsored health insurance plan that currently covers 1.6 million children across the state that covers everything from doctor visits to prescription drugs and dental care.
Oberweis also supported the infamous Ryan budget that relied on deep cuts to Medicare and doubled down with his own plan that, according to the Chicago Daily Herald, would keep people working until age 72. He event went as far as to propose investing up to a quarter of a person’s social security in the stock market. With the market’s recent volatility, we are seeing just how disastrous Oberweis’ plan could have been for hardworking people.
A PERENNIAL CANDIDATE OUT FOR HIMSELF
A perennial candidate, Jim Oberweis has run eight times since 2002. After finally winning a state Senate seat in 2012, Oberweis made it clear that he was more interested in using it as a stepping stone rather than serving his constituents. As the Chicago Tribune put it, “When [Oberweis] finally got elected to something…he could have served a term and built a record. Instead, he quickly jumped into the next campaign.”
In fact, Oberweis has been running for various offices for so long that he has a hard time keeping track of which seat he’s trying to buy. His 2020 run for Congress got off to a rocky start when he mistakenly filed paperwork to run against Sen. Durbin.
As a candidate, Oberweis has behaved as if he is above the law and has been accused of flouting ethical guidelines to benefit himself. In 2007, the FEC fined him $21,000 for appearing in a dairy commercial during an election season. Earlier this month, Oberweis was accused of trying to illegally solicit campaign contributions with the promise of returning the favor from his own campaign account.
Oberweis has shown little commitment to the state he has repeatedly run to represent. A 2014 NBC Chicago investigation exposed Oberweis claiming a Florida Gulf Coast penthouse condo as his primary residence and found that his wife declared Florida residency to dodge Illinois taxes. No wonder Florida Republicans encouraged Oberweis to run for the congressional seat in the Sunshine state.
Further proving his desperation to climb the political ladder, Oberweis has poured millions of dollars into his races for office and has even gone so far as to fundraise with a convicted murderer this cycle.
In stark contrast, Representative Underwood has only run for one office: the one she currently holds, where she is working across the aisle to deliver results for Illinois families.
THE PATH TO VICTORY
Illinois 14th congressional district is over 77% suburban, reflecting the kind of communities that have shifted rapidly toward Democrats in the age of Trump. What’s more, Rep. Lauren Underwood has proven that she has the ability to win in traditionally Republican areas, regardless of who is at the top of the ticket.
While President Trump won this district by nearly 4 percentage points in 2016, Rep. Underwood won almost 53% of the vote in 2018 — outpacing the now Governor of Illinois by nearly 13 points. Last cycle, Rep. Underwood was the first Congressional Democrat to win all seven counties in the district.
With health care top of mind for voters, Jim Oberweis’ repeated efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act and Medicare establish a stark contrast that will be the defining feature of this race. Rep. Underwood’s background as a registered nurse and public health professional uniquely qualify her to speak to Illinoisans’ number one priority and she has strong accomplishments to tout, including getting her bill to lower the cost of insulin signed into law by President Trump.
Rep. Underwood has put together an impressive re-election campaign with the resources necessary to win, raising more than $3 million in 2019 alone.