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Oberweis has a dream, too : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oberweis has a dream, too

To win state-wide offices in the November general election, the Republican Party's candidates will have to appeal to a wide-range of voters, including women and minorities.

Based on his remarks at a Republican candidate forum last week in Yorkville, State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican and candidate for U.S. Senate, apparently isn't concerned about attracting a cross-section of voters in November. In opening his remarks, Oberweis said, "Today is Martin Luther King Day, and I'd like you to know that I, too, have a dream...and that is that you will help me retire Dick Durbin in November."

We found it unseemly that Oberweis would equate his own personal political ambition to that of a dream for equality for a once enslaved people.

Over the past 20 years Illinois and its electorate-like the rest of the country-has grown increasingly more diverse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the percentage of the state's white voters declined from 83.5 percent in 1970 to 63.3 percent in 2011. The trend towards increasing ethnic diversity is almost certain to continue as the census bureau figures show that nearly half the state's population under the age of one in 2011 (49.4 percent) were minorities.

Certainly if they wish to continue to be a significant factor in Illinois politics, Oberweis and other Republicans are going to have to figure out a way to put out the welcome mat for all voters-including minorities.

Since last week's forum was held on the national observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Oberweis and the other Republican candidates for state office who participated had a special opportunity to express a willingness to reach out to all Illinois voters. Instead, beyond Oberweis' clumsy remarks, they took a pass.

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