Political newcomer Lauren Hultgren pulled off a remarkable win in Illinois’s 14th Congressional District last fall. The largely exurban district had been redrawn after the 2010 census into a secure Republican seat. Plano Republican, Randy Hultgren, had never faced a serious challenge since winning the district in 2010. Underwood’s win reflects both the wave of opposition to the President and the collar-counties’ long term drift away from the GOP.
What will Republicans do to recapture this vital suburban bolthole? It isn’t clear, but you can be sure that State Senator and perennial candidate Jim Oberweis figured in no one’s plans for the district.
Heir to the family dairy business, Oberweis has money to burn on his political hobby. His gay-baiting, social conservative agenda helped him lose five elections before he finally secured a seat in the state Senate. He then lost another race for the US Senate in 2014. Now he’s “seriously considering” a run for Underwood’s seat.
Oberweis doesn’t lose well. If he was a superhero, he’d be called The Underpoller and his special power would be his ability to lag behind the rest of his party. In his ’08 Congressional run he under-polled McCain by five points. In 2014 he under-polled Rauner by almost 8 points. He is not a popular guy in Illinois.
Despite his unpopularity, Oberweis lingers around the margins of the Illinois GOP because he’s got a lot of inherited money and the party is too weak to stop him. The 14th is likely to attract some solid Republican competition, but Oberweis’ threat to pursue that seat darkens Republican odds significantly.