Oberweis' most high-profile loss came in 2008, which came after three failed statewide primary campaigns. That year, Oberweis was the GOP nominee in a high-profile special election to succeed former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. That district, which was also numbered the 14th (but only shared about 40 percent of the same territory), had been reliably red turf for a long time. George W. Bush carried the seat 55-44 in 2004 and Hastert (whose awful past would not be revealed until 2015), had always won re-election easily.
However, the contest between Oberweis and Democrat Bill Foster turned out to be a competitive affair, and Foster's 52.5-47.5 victory that March was a strong early sign that 2008 was going to be another painful year for Republicans. Adding to the agony, Oberweis and Foster had won their primaries for the regular November contest a month before the special was decided. After that disastrous loss, though, Republicans reportedly tried to convince their nominee to drop out of the autumn rematch.
Then-state Rep. Aaron Schock, who was the GOP nominee for a congressional seat to the south, loudly threw Oberweis under the bus for his defeat, declaring, "Anybody in Illinois who knows Jim Oberweis knows that was not a referendum on the Republican Party; it was a referendum on Jim Oberweis." Schock, whose own congressional career would self-destruct seven years later and is now awaiting trial on charges of corruption, also volunteered that when it came to Oberweis, "The people that knew him best, liked him least." Oberweis didn't listen, and he lost to Foster again, this time by an even bigger 58-42 margin.
Things finally changed in 2012 when Oberweis won both the primary and the general election for an open state Senate seat. But some habits can't be broken: The next year, he launched a second longshot bid against Durbin, which characteristically ended in defeat. At least his 2019 Senate campaign wrapped up without a loss, but there's plenty of reason to think any House gambit would.
● KS-Sen: State Treasurer Jake LaTurner is the only noteworthy Republican who has announced a bid for this open seat, but he doesn't sound likely to stay in should U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo run.
LaTurner said this weekend that if Pompeo "wants to come back and be a United States senator ... he'll likely clear the field and be the Republican nominee." LaTurner added, "My big objective is to make sure we have someone who is a conservative fighter in the United States Senate. Mike Pompeo would be that. He checks that box, for sure." National Republicans have been trying to recruit Pompeo, but he seems to be in little hurry to decide on anything. Kansas' filing deadline isn't until June of 2020.
● TX-Sen: PPP (D) for local Democratic consultant Jeff Dalton: John Cornyn (R-inc): 47, Beto O'Rourke (D): 45.
● Senate: Compared to last year, 2020 offers Democrats a totally different playing field when it comes to the Senate: Republicans have to defend 22 seats while Democrats are protecting just a dozen—a huge reversal from the 24-to-9 disadvantage that Democrats faced in 2018. That means it's time to go on offense … but which troops do we want leading the charge?
To that end, Daily Kos Elections' Steve Singiser has put together the ultimate wish list of Democratic Senate recruits for every GOP seat that's up in the coming cycle, from top-tier races (like Georgia) to reaches (such as Montana) to the most distant dreams (someone's gotta give some love to South Dakota!). Check out the post for our complete roster, and come tell us who's on your list in comments.
● LA-Gov: Campaign finance reports covering all of 2018 were due Friday, and we learned that GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham raised $350,000 during his first three weeks in the race and finished with the same total in the bank. Abraham's campaign, which declined to announce its haul before it was due last week, insists it's kept up that $100,000 per-week fundraising pace since then. The next fundraising deadline is April 15.
For now at least, both of Abraham's main opponents in the October jungle primary have far more cash available. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards ended the year with $8.4 million in the bank while his allied political committee, Gumbo PAC, had $2.1 million to spend. Wealthy GOP businessman Eddie Rispone raised $550,000 from donors from the time he kicked off his campaign in October to the end of the year and self-funded another $5 million, leaving him with $5.5 million in the bank.
● CA-50: Via CATargetBot, Republican Bill Wells, the mayor of the city of El Cajon, has filed with the FEC to raise money for a second bid against Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, though he hasn't yet announced he's actually running.
Wells ran in last year's top-two primary and narrowly missed his chance to take on Hunter in the general election: Hunter took first place with 47 percent while Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar edged Wells 18-13 for the second-place spot. Hunter is scheduled to stand trial in September for allegedly misusing campaign finance money.
● NC-03: Michele Nix, the vice chairwoman of the North Carolina Republican Party, filed paperwork Friday with the FEC to run in the upcoming special election to succeed the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones, though she has not yet announced she's in yet.
Back in October, Nix made news when she posted an image to social media with the slogan "Jobs not Mobs" that featured a white hand making an "OK" gesture to represent Republicans and a dark fist to represent the Democrats. The News & Observer noted that some white supremacist groups have appropriated the "OK" sign, while the dark-colored fist Nix employed was similar to the imagery used by the Black Panther Party. The image also described Democrats as "globalist," which is a common anti-Semitic dog whistle.
Nix took umbrage with the idea she was engaged in some not-so-subtle race baiting, tweeting that "the raised fist was a #COMMUNIST symbol now adopted by the #Democrats." State House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson was firmly unconvinced, calling Nix's post "so despicable," and adding, "These dog whistles of black/white hands are disgusting." Nix's boss, state GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse, leapt to her defense in characteristic fashion and tweeted at Jackson that Nix "does not see race in EVERYTHING! YOU DO."
There are plenty of other Republicans who might run in the special election, which has not yet been scheduled, for this open 61-37 Trump seat. Carolina Journal News Service recently mentioned state Sen. Bob Steinburg and Rep. Phil Shepard, and former U.S. Treasury official Taylor Griffin, who unsuccessfully ran against Jones in the 2014 and 2016 primaries, as possible candidates, but none of them have shown any interest yet.
● NC-09: On Monday, the North Carolina State Board of Elections began hearings into allegations that the campaign of Republican Mark Harris engaged in election fraud in last year's hotly contested race for the 9th Congressional District, which pitted Harris against Democrat Dan McCready. Unofficial tallies have put Harris up by 905 votes, but the board has refused to certify the results pending its investigation into the alleged fraud.
Below we've assembled a roundup of links to the best coverage of the day's proceedings:
The North Carolina Democratic Party has also compiled a helpful list of five key takeaways so far. A handful of witnesses testified on Monday, but dozens more remain. The hearings are currently scheduled to continue through Wednesday. Local news station WRAL is livestreaming all the proceedings, while political scientist Michael Bitzer has put together a good list of reporters covering the event live on Twitter.
● PA-12: Over the weekend, former Snyder County Commissioner Malcolm Derk announced that he would seek the GOP nod for this reliably red seat at the March 2 party convention. Derk ran for a previous version of this district in 2010 and took third place in the primary with 28 percent of the vote. The winner of that primary was Tom Marino, who resigned last month.
● Special Elections: There's a special election on tap for Tuesday in Virginia, thanks to another special election that took place last month.
VA-HD-86: This is a Democratic district located in Northern Virginia. This vacancy was created by Jennifer Boysko's election to the state Senate in a special election in January. There are three candidates on the ballot: Democrat Ibraheem Samirah, Republican Gregg Nelson, and independent Connie Haines Hutchinson.
At first this appeared to be a fairly sleepy special election but some controversy has arisen. Samirah had been endorsed by Boysko, but her endorsement was removed from his website after anti-Semitic social media posts written by Samirah five years ago came to light. When the posts surfaced, Samirah apologized, saying, "I am so sorry that my ill-chosen words added to the pain of the Jewish community, and I seek your understanding and compassion as I prove to you our common humanity."
Controversy aside, this is a strongly Democratic district. Hillary Clinton carried it 65-30 in 2016, Barack Obama won it 60-39 2012, and Boysko easily prevailed by a 69-31 margin in her most recent bid here in 2017.
● Dallas, TX Mayor: Candidate filing closed Friday for this spring's open-seat race to succeed Dallas' incumbent mayor, termed-out Democrat Mike Rawlings, and a very large field of hopefuls has coalesced. All of the candidates will run on one nonpartisan ballot on May 4, and in the very likely event that no one takes a majority of the vote, there would be a runoff June 8.
Twelve candidates filed, and at this early point, nine of them look noteworthy. Their names are below, and we've linked to some background we've previously written on each; D Magazine also provides a good overview of each contender.
Note that there's some uncertainty as to whether or not Smith and two other candidates wound up qualifying in the end. The Dallas News wrote Friday that the trio "filed before the deadline," but as of Monday, the city's website has all three names listed as not qualifying.
As you might imagine with this many candidates, there's no clear frontrunner at this point. However, Johnson did earn some potentially useful endorsements this week when a number of high-profile conservative businessmen threw their support behind him and wrote a letter imploring fellow donors to contribute to him.
The Dallas Observer notes that quite a bit of "cognitive dissonance" has been stirred up by these GOP power players siding with Johnson, who has been a leader on liberal causes: Johnson has been involved in efforts to protect his district from the effects of gentrification, and he also led the successful charge to remove a plaque from the legislature that lionized the Confederacy, which was taken down last month. His new supporters, however, claim in their letter that he's their guy, calling Johnson "a strong, business-minded candidate whom we can support."
● Just before the new year, my dear friend Ted Bodenheimer died. Ted was a lifelong political junkie who was particularly enamored of the Morning Digest, which he loved poring over each day. In fact, you could say he was our number one fan. Earlier this month, I delivered a eulogy for Ted at his memorial service, which I've posted at Daily Kos in his honor. – David Nir