Republicans in Springfield last week got a preview of the field of possible candidates to take on U.S. Sen. DICK DURBIN, D-Illinois, in 2020. Some of the rhetoric was not subtle.
"I need you to help me kick slick Dick to the curb," said former Lake County Sheriff MARK CURRAN, 56, of Libertyville.
"Dick Durbin is not for us. He's not for this country," said PEGGY HUBBARD, 55, of Belleville, who is retired, served in the Navy and worked for the IRS.
"Dick Durbin isn't taking care of the working man, he's taking care of the illegal immigrants," said Dr. TOM TARTER, 67, a cancer surgeon of Springfield.
"He's done nothing for this state for the past 20 years and it's time for him to leave," said Dr. ROBERT MARSHALL, a radiologist in his 70s from Burr Ridge.
Durbin, 74, of Springfield, was first elected to the Senate in 1996, and is seeking his fifth four-year term. He was in the U.S. House from 1983 until early 1997, when he left for the Senate.
Curran was elected sheriff as a Democrat in 2006, then changed parties in 2008 and won two terms as a Republican. He told the combined meeting of the GOP state central committee and county chairs' organization in Springfield that he changed parties because he thought Democrats were "headed for evil."
"I burned every bridge, and I have been the biggest target in Lake County forever," he said of that move. He said he lost his 2018 race for re-election by just 137 votes out of a quarter million cast. And he raised eyebrows during this talk at the fair in the way he referenced his home county.
"Lake County is not purple, it's blue, folks," Curran said. "You know, the wrong people moved in, what have you. We need to change that and we will."
Curran said later that he was saying that "it was a Republican county and then Democrats moved in," and the "wrong people" comment had nothing to do with race. "The ethnic groups haven't changed," he said. "We're the same percentages."
He also said Durbin is "not really a Catholic," noting that Durbin, who is Catholic, has been denied communion in his home diocese in Springfield because he backs legal abortion.
Curran said he is pro-life and would only allow abortion to save the life of the mother.
Hubbard, a mother of six and grandmother of 18 in a blended family, got applause when she told of how she thought she was in love and became pregnant when in the Navy, but at the time couldn't stay in the service pregnant and unwed. She said a lieutenant suggested she have an abortion, but when she was about to have the procedure, hearing the heartbeat and seeing the ultrasound of "that little being" changed her mind.
"They tried to hold me down and force me to have an abortion," she claimed. "I fought with every ounce of my being."
"That child is now 32 years old, served in the Navy eight years, graduated Magna Cum Laude," and is married with two children in Green Bay, Wis., Hubbard said of daughter ASHLEY CAPPELLE.
She said she lost a brother to gun violence, and her husband, CHARLES HUBBARD, had to retire from St. Louis Police after being shot twice in the line of duty.
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"It's not the gun, it's the morals of people," she said. "Cain killed Abel with a rock."
She also said she successfully fought to keep a Confederate monument in Forest Park in St. Louis.
"Back during the Jim Crow era, when I was a girl, that was the only place we were allowed, as blacks, to congregate and have have picnics," she said later. "My grandmother ... told us the significance of the history of that monument."
"And I tell our black community, who were against me doing this, 'If we're hollering about slavery and you take away the monuments, where's your proof it ever happened?'" Hubbard said. "We need to start teaching our children our history."
Hubbard said Durbin "does not stand with our president. He does not stand with the working class. He does not stand for the inner city. He does not stand for law enforcement. Guess what -- Peggy's coming."
She also chided her own party members because so many officials were absent at the meeting.
"Peggy is going to say what she's going to say," she said, "and she doesn't care how it comes out. I'm pretty much like our president in that." Seeing the number of absences, she asked, "Are we gladiators, or are we bitches?"
Tarter, who formally announced his campaign last week, joked about being an "older white male."
"We do need to be seen as the party of inclusion, and we are," he said. "So I have decided I'm not going to change my age, race and sex just for this campaign."
He said he's the most qualified candidate on health care, and he strongly opposes a single-payor plan.
"When they say Medicare for all, do not believe it," Tarter said. "It's a lie. It's an inferior plan."
If Durbin is re-elected, he said, unions should know their health-care plans will change. He added the part about Durbin being for "illegal immigrants," and not "the working man."
Marshall is a perennial candidate who has run as a Democrat and Republican for various offices. As a Democratic candidate for governor in the 2018 primary, he proposed splitting Illinois into three states, revising it during the campaign to call for four states. He now wants it to be two states. His card says he supports Trump "in all of his policies, including confirming pro-life judges."
GREG BALES, Durbin's campaign manager, noted Democrats, as well as Republicans, had a day at the State Fair last week.
"While Democrats gathered ... and highlighted their efforts to improve health care and support working families in Illinois, Republicans instead held a Trump rally to cook up insults, nicknames, and blatant lies just like their Dear Leader," Bales said. "Illinoisans demand and deserve better than that."