GOP Candidates Open Fire at Debate McKenna Blasts No-Show Oberweis; Candidates Talk of Integrity, Experience

By Patterson, John | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 4, 2004 | Go to article overview

GOP Candidates Open Fire at Debate McKenna Blasts No-Show Oberweis; Candidates Talk of Integrity, Experience


Patterson, John, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: John Patterson Daily Herald State Government Editor

U.S. Senate hopeful Andy McKenna threw the initial sharp elbow in the fight for the Republican nomination, accusing Aurora dairy magnate Jim Oberweis of sullying the field's integrity during the first broadcast debate of the campaign.

"The single most important issue in this party today is integrity," said McKenna, a Glenview businessman. "I think it's problematic that one candidate who's not here, Jim Oberweis, put the party in a bad position by choosing to have a commercial that has been criticized as illegal. We just don't need that."

The campaign ad in question features Oberweis' company and has drawn scrutiny for whether it adheres to federal election laws.

Jeff Metzger, Oberweis' deputy campaign manger, said the ads are legal. Just as some candidates tout their teaching background and others their military background, Oberweis is touting his dairyman background, Metzger said.

The personal attack from McKenna shows Oberweis is the leading candidate, Metzger said.

Oberweis did not attend Tuesday's debate, choosing instead to pass out ice cream to potential voters at one of his family's suburban ice cream shops.

McKenna's criticism on Tuesday came during the first broadcast debate of the Republican U.S. Senate primary, sponsored by the Daily Herald and WBEZ 91.5-FM.

After months of polite campaigning, elbows are getting sharper as the March 16 primary nears. Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Borling of Rockford and investment banker-turned-teacher Jack Ryan traded barbs over the U.S. military's role in Europe.

Ryan argues the country's military manpower and money would be better spent fighting terrorism than in NATO alliances that are no longer needed given the demise of the Soviet threat.

Borling, who once held top posts in NATO, claimed Ryan didn't know what he was talking about and quizzed Ryan on the topic. Borling said NATO is "more relevant today than it ever was."

As McKenna noted, integrity is a key issue for Republicans as the party struggles with the image of former Republican Gov. …

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