Oberweis, Foster face off again for Hastert's old seat

Erin Sauder

Democrat Bill Foster and Republican Jim Oberweis will go head to head again in November for the 14th Congressional District seat.

In March, Foster, a former scientist at Batavia’s Fermilab, beat Oberweis by taking 52 percent of the vote in a special election to fill former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert’s seat.

The Oberweis campaign is hoping for a different result this time around.

“After the March election we were obviously disappointed to lose,” said David From, spokesperson for the Oberweis campaign.

Staff members talked with voters and Republican Party activists to find out what they could have done differently, and determine how to approach the fall campaign.

“Our biggest change since March has been how we communicate,” From said. “We’re spending a lot more time going out and meeting with voters.”

Oberweis held 12 town-hall meetings in August and September. He also hosts telephone town-halls in which thousands of phone numbers are dialed instantly; and users can choose whether to participate in a live question-and-answer session.

While the vast majority of the people on the line just listen, From said, many have questions regarding the economic bailout which Oberweis did not support.

“Most of Jim’s time has been spent in financial markets,” From said. “He really understands our economy and how it works and what it takes to build businesses and add jobs.

“Obviously, with these tough economic times, we feel like his experience would be very valuable in Washington.”

Accessibility has also been key in Foster’s campaign, said Shannon O’Brien, the congressman’s communications director.

Since being elected, Foster has been home to the district every weekend to hold more than 20 Congress On Your Corner sessions, akin to one-on-one town halls.

“Basically, the congressman sets up a card table at grocery stores around the district and talks to folks about what is on their minds,” O’Brien said.

While in office, the congressman has focused his time and energy on doing the job he was elected to do, O’Brien said.

“(To) help solve the problems his constituents face — and that includes working with Republicans and Democrats alike to save jobs at Fermilab, pass the GI Bill to ensure that veterans can go to college and take action to get the economy moving again,” she said.

Erin Sauder can be reached