Durbin and Trump (copy)

President Donald Trump, right, listens while Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, speaks during a bipartisan meeting at the White House last year. Durbin has been a senator for the past 22 years. Four Republicans plan to challenge Durbin when he is up for reelection in 2021, and all four endorsed the economic gains made during the Trump presidency.

Four Republicans are vying in a primary for a chance to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield.

The candidates gave speeches to leaders of the state’s Republican organization last week in Springfield.

Among them was Mark Curran, who was a Democrat elected to serve as Lake County’s Sheriff. He later became a Republican. He said he’ll use his law enforcement experience to go after Durbin politically.

“We will convict him of being power-thirsty Dick Durbin – first politician that needs to go,” Curran said.

Peggy Hubbard, a retired member of the U.S. Navy from north of St. Louis, said as an African American woman who lost a brother to gun violence she can bring the right message to combat the violence: It’s not a gun problem.

“The heart is the most deadliest weapon of all,” Hubbard said. “You can take away every gun out of this country. Cain killed Abel with a rock.”

Two doctors running had different messages for voters.

Dr. Tom Tarter of Springfield said healthcare is the No. 1 issue for voters going into the November 2020 election. As a physician preparing to retire, he said he knows all about it.

“There are sensible, common-sense, market-driven ways that we can reduce the cost of healthcare in this country,” Tarter said.

Burr Ridge Dr. Robert Marshall is running on a platform to split Illinois into two states. Marshall said Durbin is vulnerable.

“That’s the hardest problem I have is trying to convince people that this guy can be beaten,” Marshall said.

All the candidates listed their conservative credentials, including supporting the Second Amendment, opposing abortion and seeking changes to immigration policies. They heralded the economy under President Donald Trump.

Durbin’s tenure in government could be a difficult hurdle for Republicans, said Chris Mooney, the W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Durbin has represented Illinois in the Senate since 1997. He has been in Washington since 1982, when he was elected to Congress.

“Candidates who look like they will easily win attract challengers who have less experience, knowledge, constituency, money, etc.,” Mooney said. “This is because quality challengers don’t want to risk their career on a lost cause. But there will always be someone, anyone to run against even a well-entrenched incumbent like Durbin. They just won’t be very visible or have much of a chance to win.”

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show

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