Endorsement: Curran for Republicans in U.S. Senate primary
Whether it is possible for a Republican to beat longtime U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Springfield in a general election in Illinois is hard to say.
Durbin's what you might call a career politician who has run for the Senate four other times, and the best any Republican opponent has done is the 42.7% of the vote that State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove garnered in 2014.
The last time Durbin ran in a presidential year, he amassed 67.8% of the vote in a landslide over little-known Steven Sauerberg, a doctor from LaGrange.
The race this year for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate includes five earnest but largely inconspicuous candidates.
A show of hands, please, if you can identify any of them without resorting quickly to Google. If you can't, it probably says more about them, their campaign wherewithal and the state of the Republican Party in Illinois than it does about you.
Our endorsement goes to former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran Jr., who has acknowledged the obvious publicly -- that it will take something of a miracle to beat Durbin.
Our endorsement of Curran, a Libertyville resident, is a close call. We wish he'd lighten up a bit; at his interview with our Editorial Board, he seemed at times distracted to the point of scowling.
We also like thoughtful businessman Casey Chlebek of Glenview, an immigrant whose life proves the reality of the American dream and who once served as president of the Illinois Division of the Polish American Congress.
But Curran is the only one of the five candidates with significant experience in elected office.
He was an able sheriff. He expresses himself with blunt, straight talk. He's got an independent streak that is vital in this age of unduly partisan politics.
And while we don't agree with him on all the issues, we're impressed by his willingness to go beyond labels in considering different views.
Of the other candidates, Tom Tarter is a urologist and cancer surgeon from Springfield, where he's been a GOP precinct committeeman. He's reasonably well versed on the issues and like Curran and Chlebek, worthy of consideration.
Robert Marshall, once a member of the Burr Ridge village board, also is a doctor. He ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for governor two years ago, but has run in previous Republican primaries as well.
The final candidate, former IRS analyst Peggy Hubbard of Belleville, lacks credentials or a self-edit button. Her candidacy shouldn't be taken seriously.
Keep in mind, Republicans have, in fact, been elected to the Senate from Illinois in the not-too-distant past -- independent Mark Kirk from Highland Park, maverick Peter Fitzgerald from Inverness.
One was moderate, Kirk. The other, more conservative, Fitzgerald.
In both cases, they possessed strong intellect. And in both cases, they had an ability most of us long for today: They could work across the aisle.
That's the formula Republicans need to pursue in the Senate race from Illinois if they're to have any hope.
They don't have the big names. But they have a couple of candidates in Curran and Chlebek with less partisan approaches that could get things done.
We endorse Curran and wish his candidacy good luck.