Senate candidates Durbin, Oberweis debate

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United States Senator Dick Durbin and Republican challenger Jim Oberweis debated here at ABC7 Wednesday night. (WLS)

United States Senator Dick Durbin and Republican challenger Jim Oberweis debated here at ABC7 Wednesday night.

Durbin and Oberweis stopped short of making a promise about negative ads.

Oberweis tried to make an issue of Durbin's style, honed during the incumbent's 32 years in Washington, 18 of those years a U.S. Senator.

"He's a very smooth talker," Oberweis said, "much better than I will be."

"My experience in the United States Senate has helped Illinois," Durbin returned.

But national issues received less mention during the hour than questions surrounding Oberweis' residence. Does he live in Sugar Grove, Ill., or with his wife in Florida where the couple takes a homestead exemption?

"He has no permanent home for tax purposes in the state of Illinois," Durbin said. "I live in the same home in Springfield, Illinois, with my wife that I've lived in since the first day I ran for public office."

"For him to say I'm not an Illinois resident is absolutely ludicrous," Oberweis countered.

The candidates also differed on support for an assault weapons ban.

"If you need an AK-47 to shoot a deer or a duck, you ought to go fishing," Durbin said.

"I would absolutely support a ban if there is evidence that it would reduce violence," said Oberweis. "The evidence so far is, it doesn't reduce violence."

Oberweis defended having urged Tea Party members to join the Republican party.

"What I'm saying to people is get involved," Oberweis defended. "Don't sit there and complain and talk."

ABC 7 political analyst Laura Washington challenged the candidates to stop their negative advertising.

"If he wants to pull his negative ads, you can bet mine will be pulled tomorrow," Durbin agreed.

But when ABC 7 anchor Kathy Brock, who hosted the debate, pressed the issue further, asking if residents will no longer see negative ads from either side starting Thursday, Oberweis was less sure.

"Kathy, you know that's not realistic," Oberweis said. "It takes time to make changes."

The candidates also differed on Obamacare and immigration reform, but even Durbin was surprised when state senator Oberweis, a gay marriage opponent in Springfield, said he would support a federal marriage equality law.

You can watch the entire debate here

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