Oberweis poll casts him as front-runner, inflames rivals in 14th District GOP contest

A portion of a new internal poll released Tuesday by state Sen. Jim Oberweis supports his contention he is best-positioned among the Republicans seeking the party nomination in the 14th Congressional District.

But, for his opponents, it also created new evidence that what voters know Oberweis for is not what it will take to beat incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood of Naperville.

The Jan. 28-29 poll surveyed 300 likely voters, all by telephone.

That sample size is relatively small, resulting in a margin of error of 5.6%, about twice as high as what is seen in more expensive, and more typical polls of at least 1,000 people.

The campaign did not release the entire poll, only its executive summary. That summary indicated 46% of likely primary voters support Oberweis, who is from Sugar Grove.

The margin of error means that support could be as low as nearly 40% and as high as nearly 52%. Sue Rezin, a state senator from Morris, was second at 16%.

Catalina Lauf, who lives in Woodstock, was third at 6%. Naperville resident Ted Gradel and Oswego resident Jim Marter both had 2%. Warrenville resident Jerry Evans and St. Charles resident Anthony Catella were not included.

“This is a benchmark poll,” said Oberweis spokesman Travis Akin. “There's no attempt here other than to show people how the actual vote will turn out on Election Day.”

This is the first time Oberweis has polled against Lauf, who has found momentum as the “Anti-AOC” candidate on Fox News and conservative podcasts.

Her campaign was not impressed with Oberweis' poll.

“We're not sure why someone who's been running for office for decades and loaned his campaign millions of dollars would push a poll showing him below 50%, but we don't try to understand the tactics of career politicians,” Lauf's campaign team said in a statement. “We're seeing overwhelming enthusiasm on the ground behind Catalina's candidacy. She is not only the only candidate who will stand with President Trump and the only candidate who can beat liberal Lauren Underwood, but the much needed new energy and new face for the Republican Party.”

More red meat for Oberweis' opponents came in some of the other questions asked.

The poll shows 20% of respondents have an “unfavorable” view of Oberweis.

No other candidate, including Rezin, had more than a 5% unfavorable rating.

The poll also asked if they would be more likely to support Oberweis if they knew he “defeated liberal Democrat Dick Durbin in each county in your district and came the closest to beating Dick Durbin of any Republican.”

Seventy-five percent of participants said they would be more likely to support Oberweis.

The Rezin campaign said the poll shows voters view Oberweis more negatively than any other candidate.

And, even in his own poll, Oberweis is a loser, her campaign said.

“What is ludicrous is that Oberweis and his pollster contrived a question seeking to laud Oberweis for having lost to Dick Durbin,” said a written statement from the campaign. “What is the point? Oberweis lost that race. He has lost elections for this congressional seat twice already.

“If a candidate is supposed to get credit for a previous failed campaign then, by all means, Jim Oberweis is the undisputed king of Illinois politics.”

Andrew Leppert, a spokesman for Evans' campaign, said the exclusion of Evans from the poll reveals Oberweis is rattled by Evans' performances at two recent debates and relatively strong fundraising despite being a late entry into the race.

“Most people tend to hide what they are most afraid of, and this stands particularly true for Jim Oberweis and his push poll,” Leppert said.

Oberweis is far outpacing the other candidates in the race in the size of his campaign war chest.

He's the only candidate to approach $1.5 million in total receipts and surpass $1 million in cash on hand.

A large part of that is thanks to Oberweis pumping $1 million of his own money into the campaign.

Evans raked in more than $45,000 in contributions to close out 2019.

But he didn't enter the race until late October.

In comparison, Rezin and Gradel, who were in the race early are the only candidates besides Oberweis to collect more than $200,000 in contributions in the final quarter.

Marter responded by releasing the results of one question he asked more than 700 people in his own poll.

The question positions Marter as the only supporter of Trump, the Second Amendment, “strong borders” and pro-life issues.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they'd support Marter if that were true. “Oberweis' numbers are dropping,” Marter said. “My major marketing push is coming now, and the only poll that really matters is March 17.”

The sprawling 14th Congressional District includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

Ted Gradel
James Marter
Sue Rezin
Anthony Catella
Jerry Evans
Catalina Lauf
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