Four months after picking up an endorsement from South Side activist preacher Corey Brooks, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Oberweis on Tuesday opened a campaign office across the street from the pastor’s church.
“Michael Jordan was just entering college when [U.S. Sen.]Dick Durbin first went to Washington,” Oberweis said the office, 6607 S. Martin Luther King Drive. “I believe he has lost contact with the community.”
Oberweis said there’s “no easy fix” for solving the South Side’s gun violence plaguebut, he said, job creation is key.
“Creating jobs is something I’ve done for most of my life,” Oberweis said. “And I hope to be able to bring that experience here.”
Several South Side pastors, including Brooks, stood beside Oberweis, telling reporters it’s time to show the political world that African-Americans are not monolithic voters — that they’ll vote forthe candidate or party that appears best able to help the black community.
“Let me be very clear: This is 2014, and we are not slaves,” Brooks said, responding to a question that Oberweis and other Republican candidates might be trying to buy the black vote. “I cannot be bought.…”
Pastor Ira Acree said that for too long the black community has been “boxed in” by the Democrats.
“What have we got to show for that?” Acree said.
Asked later about Oberweis’ South Side venture, Durbin shrugged it off, arguing it “doesn’t represent a commitment to the people who live there.”
“No politician should take any vote or any group of voters for granted, and I don’t,” Durbin said. “But I can tell you buying a one-month storefront lease on the South Side doesn’t represent a commitment to the people who live there.
“If they ask Mr. Oberweis the basics — do you believe we should end violence in this community and stop it by having universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and mentally unstable people? He’s one of he few candidates of either political party who opposes background checks.
“If they ask him what about the economic survival of these families. He’s one of the few candidates who’s standing up and saying we shouldn’t increase the minimum wage. I’m wondering if he’s taking that message to the pulpits of the churches that have endorsed him.”