State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, announced his third primary election bid for U.S. Senate Friday in a bare-bones online video that addresses some of the biggest questions about his candidacy.
In the video released on his website, Oberweis says he knows people will ask why he's running again. He finished second in the 2002 and 2004 primaries for U.S. Senate, was runner up in the 2006 primary for governor and lost the general election for Congress to replace U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert of Plano.
"We're living in a time when America is on the decline and we need principled leaders to step forward," Oberweis says in the video.
He also moves to soften his image, saying he's a different candidate from the one who flew a helicopter over Soldier Field in a campaign ad while saying enough "illegal aliens" enter the U.S. to fill the stadium every week.
"I've made statements in commercials that I've regretted, and I've said so," he said.
Oberweis' biggest primary challenge is likely to come from Downers Grove businessman Doug Truax, who has been campaigning since summer and criticizing incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin over the Affordable Care Act, in particular.
Oberweis, by comparison, comes late to the race as candidates are set to start filing petition signatures to get on the ballot Monday.
"I don't see those other guys out there," Truax told the Daily Herald last month as Oberweis was flirting with the idea of a campaign.
Republicans Chad Koppie of Gilberts and William Lee of Rockton are also planning to make a run.
But because of his previous campaigns and ice cream empire, Oberweis comes to the primary race as the name most familiar to Illinoisans. The businessman has said his government experience gained from his first term in the Illinois Senate makes this campaign different for him, and he's touting his successful effort this year to raise the speed limit on rural interstates to 70 mph.
Before that, Oberweis was a leader in trying to oust then-Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles from his job because Brady lobbied lawmakers to support same-sex marriage.
Oberweis said his push wasn't about disagreeing on the issue but instead about having a party leader that stuck to the Republican platform.
Still, the clash put him at odds with other top Illinois Republicans like U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and former House Republican Leader Tom Cross.