Jim Oberweis

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Jim Oberweis
Jim oberweis.jpg
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 25th district
Assumed office
January 9, 2013
Preceded byChris Lauzen
Personal details
Born (1946-06-10) June 10, 1946 (age 73)
Aurora, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Elaine (Divorced 2003)
Julie (2008–present)
EducationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (BA)
University of Chicago (MBA)

James D. Oberweis (born June 10, 1946) is an American businessman, investment manager and politician from the state of Illinois. The owner of Oberweis Dairy in North Aurora near Chicago, he is currently a member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 25th district since January 2013.

Oberweis sought the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 2002 and 2004 and the Republican nomination for Governor of Illinois in 2006. He was the Republican nominee for Illinois's 14th congressional district in a March 2008 special election and the November 2008 general election, losing on both occasions to Democrat Bill Foster. He was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2012. He ran for the U.S. Senate again in 2014, losing to Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin.


After graduating from Marmion Academy in Aurora, Illinois, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he joined Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He spent a year abroad, studying at Technische Hochschule Darmstadt.[1][2] He received a Bachelor of Arts from Illinois, and then a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago.[3]


In 1968, Oberweis became a junior high school teacher at Waldo Junior High in Aurora, teaching math and science.[4] In 1970, he changed careers and became an investment stockbroker. Within a few years, he was promoted to manager of a branch office.

In 1976, he began publication of an investment newsletter, the Oberweis Report, which reported on emerging growth companies. The Report was rated highly among investment advice newsletters. In 1978, Oberweis and his first wife, Elaine, established their own investment management company, Oberweis Securities in Aurora, Illinois.

In 1986, Oberweis purchased and assumed control of family business Oberweis Dairy.[5] His father, Joe, had died in 1984, and Joe's successor (and Jim's older brother) John suffered an incapacitating stroke in 1986; after Jim's purchase he turned day-to-day operations over to outside presidents who embarked on acquisition programs highly leveraged with debt. Elaine Oberweis (University of Chicago MBA '89)[6] left the brokerage business in 1989 to rescue the dairy business from near-ruin.[7]

He remained active in the investment field. In 1987, he founded Oberweis Emerging Growth Fund. In 1989, he established Oberweis Asset Management (OAM). OAM specializes in "small-cap growth equities investing", and has individual accounts for institutional investors and a family of mutual funds for individual investors. As of 2015, OAM had about $2 billion under management.[8]

Oberweis moved the Oberweis Dairy from Aurora to its present location in North Aurora. He also began a chain of company-owned dairy stores, and has maintained a dairy delivery business to homes in the Chicago area. A franchise program began in 2004, to expand the dairy business outside of northeast Illinois.[9]


Oberweis became a financial news anchor and host of the show Catching Winners Early on the Financial News Network. In Chicago, Oberweis became a regular guest on the Ask an Expert show. Oberweis was also a popular guest on CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg TV.[3]

Political activity[edit]

Oberweis has sought elective office six times, finally succeeding in the 2012 race for the 25th State Senate district seat. His record of unsuccessful election campaigns earned him the nickname of "the Milk Dud".[10]

2002 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In 2002, Oberweis sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator, but lost in the primary, finishing second of three with 31%.[11]

2004 U.S. Senate election[edit]

Oberweis ran for Senator again in 2004, but again lost in the primary, finishing second of seven with 24%.[11]

Soon after the primary, the winner, Jack Ryan withdrew due to personal scandal. Some Republicans felt that as the second-place finisher, Oberweis should replace Ryan, but the state central committee chose Alan Keyes instead. Keyes lost to Barack Obama by the largest margin for the Illinois U.S. Senate race in history.[12]

Oberweis's 2004 campaign was notable for a television commercial in which he flew in a helicopter over Chicago's Soldier Field and claimed enough illegal immigrants came into America in a week (10,000 a day) to fill the stadium's 61,500 seats.[13]

During his 2004 Senate campaign, Oberweis appeared in television commercials for Oberweis Dairies. The Federal Election Commission ruled that this was an improper corporate contribution to the campaign, and fined Oberweis $21,000 for violation of campaign finance law.[14]

2006 gubernatorial election[edit]

In 2006, Oberweis sought the Republican nomination for Governor of Illinois. He started his campaign in April 2005. He lost in the primary, finishing second of five with 32%.[11] As part of his campaign, he supported amending the Illinois Constitution to define marriage as opposite-sex only.[15] The winner of the primary was Judy Baar Topinka, who was defeated by Democrat Rod Blagojevich in the general election 49.8%–39.3%, with Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate, receiving a little over 10.3%.[11] Some media reports indicated that Oberweis received a large number of write-in votes in the November 2006 general election, and he spontaneously re-appeared in some tracking polls at 1–2% in October of that year;[citation needed] this was apparently spontaneous and not officially organized.[citation needed] For that reason, the write-in votes were not officially tracked as they would with an official, declared write-in candidate, and a statewide total is not known.[citation needed]

2008 Congressional elections[edit]

When U.S. Representative Dennis Hastert resigned his seat (Illinois's 14th congressional district) on November 26, 2007, Oberweis ran to replace him. Oberweis was endorsed by Hastert.[16] He won the primary for the special election for the remainder of Hastert's unfinished term with 56%. He also won the primary for the general election for the next term, with 58%.[11]

However, Oberweis lost the March special election to Democrat Bill Foster, getting 47% of the vote to Foster's 53%. He lost to Foster again in November, 58% to 42%.[11]

Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee[edit]

During the elections for the State Central Committee in March 2010, Jim Oberweis ran and won a seat on the Illinois Republican Party's State Central Committee representing the 14th Congressional District.[4][17] In 2013, as State Central Committeeman, Oberweis led the effort to oust former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady after his controversial public support of same-sex marriage.[18][19] While Oberweis's efforts were unsuccessful, Brady eventually resigned because of the controversy.[20]

Oberweis did not run again for the State Central Committee for the election in April 2014.[21]

State Senate[edit]

In the 2012 general election, Oberweis won the 25th State Senate seat previously held by Chris Lauzen, his former GOP primary rival in the 2008 congressional race. He had announced his bid in September 2011.[22] He defeated his Democratic opponent, Corinne Pierog, 57.5%–42.5%.[23][24] In the 2016 general election, Oberweis again defeated Pierog, this time 54.7%–45.3%.[25]

In October 2018, Oberweis was appointed as the Senate Republican Whip.[26][27]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Commerce and Economic Development
  • Environment and Conservation (Minority Spokesperson)
  • Executive
    • Subcommittee on Election Law
  • Labor (Minority Spokesperson)
  • Revenue
  • Transportation; Subcommittee on Election Law
    • Subcommittee on Capital

2014 U.S. Senate election[edit]

Oberweis was the Republican nominee for the 2014 Senate election, for the seat held by Democrat Dick Durbin.[28] He defeated Doug Truax in the Republican primary with 56% of the vote. He was defeated by Durbin in the November election.[29]

2020 congressional elections[edit]

Oberweis announced he would run again for Illinois's 14th congressional district, challenging Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood.[30] Originally, he mistakenly filed for a Senate challenge to Durbin again in 2020, clarifying later that an error had occurred.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Jim Oberweis and his first wife, Elaine, have five children together before divorcing in 2003.[6] He has two stepchildren with his second wife, Julie, and twenty grandchildren.[32][33]

Oberweis is a Roman Catholic.[34]

Oberweis is an avid chess player. In 2013, he had a USCF rating of 1926 (class A).[4] He supported the Fox Valley Chess Club for many years. He also served as President of the Illinois Chess Association for two years, as Illinois delegate to the USCF,[35] and as a trustee of the American Chess Foundation and the Chess Trust Fund.[3]


  1. ^ Dobosz, John. "Jim Oberweis: Big Profits In Small Caps" Check |url= value (help). Forbes. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  2. ^ https://cs.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/newsletters/spring99.pdf
  3. ^ a b c "Alumni Hall of Fame - James D. Oberweis University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign". Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved February 12, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c Dietrich, Matt (September 24, 2014). "Ice Cream and Politics: Jim Oberweis Fun Facts". Reboot Illinois. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  5. ^ Sterrett, David (January 9, 2010). "Jim Oberweis gets back to business at family dairy". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "A Senate story". University of Chicago. February 2004. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Lea Murphy (November 14, 1994). "Making a Big Moove After Troubles, Oberweis Dairy on Expansion Trail". Crain's Chicago Business.
  8. ^ "Senator Jim Oberweis (R)". 99th Illinois General Assembly. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  9. ^ Martha Leonard (November 26, 2004). "Oberweis looks to enter ice cream market". Business First of Columbus.
  10. ^ "He's the Milk Dud No More - Oberweis Wins State Senate Seat". CBS2 Chicago. November 6, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Illinois State Board of Elections". Elections.illinois.gov. Archived from the original on March 31, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  12. ^ "Keyes Concedes Says Obama Stands For Evil". Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  13. ^ Ford, Liam; Avila, Oscar. "Oberweis ads rile immigrant groups". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008.
  14. ^ [1] Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Oberweis injects potentially divisive issue into GOP primary". Crain's Chicago Business. January 23, 2006.
  16. ^ "Hastert endorses Oberweis". The Courier News. December 14, 2007.
  17. ^ "Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee Members" (PDF). Digitalvictorycms.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  18. ^ Bondioli, Sara (April 21, 2014). "Illinois GOP Ousts Officials Who Opposed Former Chairman's Support Of Same-Sex Marriage". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  19. ^ Lester, Kerry (January 24, 2013). "Will Gay Marriage Stance Cost GOP Chairman His Job?". Daily Herald. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  20. ^ Preston, Mark (May 7, 2013). "Illinois GOP chair resigns, cites support for same-sex marriage as a reason". CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved May 7, 2013.
  21. ^ "Illinois GOP Announces 2014 Candidates for State Central Committee". Illinois Review. March 28, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  22. ^ http://www.chron.com/news/article/Jim-Oberweis-plans-to-seek-state-Senate-bid-2155181.php. Retrieved September 6, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  23. ^ "Official Vote: November 6, 2012 General Election" (PDF). Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  24. ^ "Election Results: General Election - 11/6/2012". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  25. ^ "Election Results: General Election - 11/8/2016". Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  26. ^ "Oberweis reappointed to Senate Leadership Post". Senator Jim Oberweis. January 16, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  27. ^ "Local Legislators Appointed to House, Senate Leadership Roles". WSPY-FM. January 17, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  28. ^ Pearson, Rick (November 22, 2013). "Oberweis to run for U.S. Senate seat held by Durbin". Chicago Tribune.
  29. ^ Skiba, Katherine & Kim Geiger (November 4, 2014) - "Sen. Durbin Charges to Victory, Will Serve Record 4th Term". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  30. ^ Pearson, Rick. "Dairy magnate Jim Oberweis launching GOP challenge to first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  31. ^ Miller, Rich. "Oberweis files FEC paperwork to run for US Senate in 2020". Capitol Fax.com. Archived from the original on February 19, 2019. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  32. ^ "101st Illinois General Assembly". Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  33. ^ "Family matters -- a correspondence with Jim Oberweis' daughter". Chicago Tribune. March 15, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
  34. ^ Henderson, Harold - 15 Candidates! We Can Help--The Reader's Guide to the Big Showdown Association of Alternative Newsmedia, May 15, 2005
  35. ^ "United States Chess Federation". June 1, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2007.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Steve Sauerberg
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Illinois
(Class 2)

Most recent