Senate candidate criticized for Florida trip days before election

March 14, 2014 (OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.)

Critics point out that while we were enduring yet another snow storm in Chicago, Jim Oberweis was enjoying the sunshine in Florida. He did return early Friday morning, just five days before the election.

It is a festive event featuring many of the top Republicans in the state, including Senator Mark Kirk. They are all here to support DuPage County Board President Dan Cronin. And after spending most of the week in Florida, Senate candidate Jim Oberweis is here as well, answering criticism from his opponent. Oberweis says he had promised his wife he would celebrate her birthday at their home in the Sunshine State.

"So I made the extra attempt, even though there was a campaign, to go down to spend a few days with her at our condominium in Florida," said Oberweis.

His primary opponent, political newcomer Doug Truax, says he believes there's more to the story. He accuses the multimillionaire businessman, whose family owns the Oberweis Dairy, of trying to coast on name recognition.

"It's a big job to take on Dick Durbin and if he's going to bolt out of the state a week before the primary, that's not the rig message to send to the voters of Illinois," said Truax.

While few GOP party loyalists at Friday night's fundraiser are willing to criticize Oberweis publicly, several told me off-camera that for Oberweis to leave town so close to the election makes them also question his commitment.

"I don't think Jim is tough enough to go toe to toe with him, and I don't think he has the ability to gain the trust of the voters," said Truax.

Oberweis says, ironically he's often been accused of being too committed.

The current state senator has run unsuccessfully for office five other times, but he says his family is a big priority also.

"Tomorrow night is my son's 40th birthday, and I'm going to go to his birthday party tomorrow night," said Oberweis.

That birthday party is in Naperville, by the way. The most recent polls show Oberweis with a lead over Truax, though the polls were taken before this week.

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