State Journal-Register

Nov 09, 2001

Senate candidate Cox aims to change image

WASHINGTON - John Cox, a Republican hoping to win a primary bid to challenge Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin next year, will launch a statewide television ad campaign today aimed at softening his conservative image.

The first television ad of the Senate race will be largely biographical, telling voters that Cox learned the "values of hard work and achievement" from his mother, who was a schoolteacher, and his father, a postman.

However, the ads primarily are aimed at countering criticism that he is too conservative to win a statewide contest.

"I'm no right-wing ideologue just out to make a point," said Cox, describing the ads' message during a brief Washington visit to drum up political and financial support.

The ads, which will cost $50,000 the first week, will run in Springfield, Peoria, Decatur, East St. Louis, Rockford and Chicago. The campaign plans to continue them through early December, a campaign spokesman said.

Cox, a wealthy Chicago attorney and businessman, has put $1 million of his own money into his campaign. He also put a lot of his own money into a primary race for the open 10th congressional district last year, but he came in fifth out of 11 candidates.

Although Republican Party leaders continue to seek out other possible contenders to go up against Durbin, Cox said he is unconcerned.

"I have to prove myself," he acknowledged.

Cox said he plans to focus on national security and economic concerns. He is opposed to abortion and new gun-control laws.

He says he has more campaign experience than the only other announced GOP candidate so far: businessman and dairy owner Jim Oberweis,
who formally entered the race Monday.

Even before he announced his candidacy, Oberweis was in hot water over comments he made comparing abortion opponents to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan. Oberweis also has questioned the need for federal subsidies for ethanol, the corn-based fuel additive that Illinois farm groups support. Cox supports ethanol subsidies.

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Westchester, also is expected to announce his candidacy soon.