Would-be Republican foe Dr. Steve Sauerberg ripped Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin as a career liberal politician soft on immigration and taxes, but he proved a bit elusive in spelling out his own stances on several key issues.
The 54-year-old family physician from west suburban Willowbrook kicked off his campaign by reading off the 10 questions he sent to Durbin in a letter asking him why he has "miserably" failed Illinois.
"I can no longer sit by and watch the out of touch, ultra-liberal Sen. Dick Durbin do to America what his friend, Governor Blagojevich, is doing to Illinois," Sauerberg told about two dozen friends and family at Federal Plaza, outside the building Durbin works in when he is in Chicago.
Durbin's camp declined to engage, issuing a statement claiming Sauerberg is joining a "long list" of Republicans running next year.
"We look forward to seeing who will be left standing next year," said Durbin campaign manager Michael Daly, in an apparent jab at the unheralded Mike Psak, a 46-year-old conservative blogging Chicago truck driver, and Andy Martin, a perennial candidate and internet commentator known for a history of anti-Semitic remarks, both who also are running in the Feb. 5 primary.
Sauerberg, a first-time candidate, was difficult to pin down on several issues.
He is "not a big gun control guy," but said he would support an assault weapons ban if it's properly crafted. Sauerberg said he is "pro Mom," "pro family," and "pro baby," but thinks women should be allowed to get abortions under certain circumstances. He declined to say what those circumstances are, however. And he said while he defines marriage as between a man and woman, he doesn't think a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is necessary.
In addition, Sauerberg said he doesn't know how he would have voted on the federal minimum wage increase Durbin supported.
Sauerberg said he has a plan to provide health insurance to the uninsured but wouldn't release details yet.
As for Iraq, Sauerberg opposes a withdrawal timeline, is encouraged by recent progress and wants Iraqi leaders to step up their own efforts to run their country. Sauerberg said going to war "may well have been a mistake" but looking back serves no useful purpose now.
Durbin supports a troop withdrawal and has been a chief Democratic critic of the war, one of two dozen senators to vote against authorizing it.
Beyond that, Sauerberg said he favors building a border wall with Mexico and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Sauerberg said he has put in $250,000 of his own money to start up his campaign. An aide estimated Sauerberg's personal financial commitment to the race at $1 million but said no firm amount has been set.
Durbin raised more than $6 million so far, and as number two in Senate Democratic leadership, getting more money shouldn't be a problem. Durbin won a second term with 60 percent of the vote in 2002.