Meet the man who wants to give Dick Durbin a run for his money

Alexis Levinson | Political Reporter

WASHINGTON — On Christmas Eve 2009, right around midnight, Doug Truax decided to run for public office.

That was when the Senate passed the Affordable Care Act, the much-derided healthcare law also known as Obamacare.

“I’m just thinking, I can’t watch this anymore, I’ve got to do something,” Truax, a West Point graduate and businessman told The Daily Caller during a recent trip here. Three and a half years later, that decision has come to pass: Truax has entered the ring against Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

Durbin is the Democratic Whip and second highest-ranking Democrat in the Senate. He has been in office for 16 years, and he boasts brimming campaign coffers: over $4.2 million cash on hand as of the end of June. Political analysts like the Rothenberg Political Report do not even consider his seat to be in play next year.

“It’s a daunting task,” Truax said. “It’s not impossible: it’s difficult.”

But, he said, “I don’t take these things lightly, and I’m not doing this to lose.”

Truax would not be the first candidate to announce he was taking on a formidable incumbent, only to fade into the woodwork when it came time to show his cards – or in this case, his funds. But he said he was realistic about what it would take to put this race on the map.

“My opinion on that is if you can’t raise enough money to make it a credible race, you’re not going be able to get enough votes to make it a credible race too,” he said.

He said he would take a “grassroots approach” to raising money, noting that he himself donated the maximum allowed amount of money to his campaign. Since he filed after the FEC deadline, he is not required to report his campaign funds until October.

“It’s a lot of money to be raised, but it’s a lot of people out there that would like to see somebody making a real run at Durbin,” he said.

Truax might not be the only person who thinks he can pull this off. He was in town last week at the invitation of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and later that day, he was set to meet with Sen. Jerry Moran, the Chairman of the NRSC and Sen. Rob Portman, the Vice Chairman of the NRSC, as well as Sen. Bob Corker.

An NRSC official described Truax as “passionate, a fresh face for Illinois” and “A strong contrast to Durbin’s tax and debt policy.”

Asked why the NRSC might be taking an interest in him, Truax hazarded that “they think I can raise a lot of money. I think that they see my background and they see somebody who’s not gonna quit.”

On the issues, Truax declines to liken himself to any other sitting Senator, but on most issues he seems to fall into the more conservative camp. He said he would not have voted for the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill, saying he preferred the House’s planned course of action to pass reform in a piecemeal manner, with a focus on enforcement.

“We’ve got a pretty good immigration system,” he said. “We have an enforcement issue … The system’s not really working cause we’re not making it work like it’s supposed to.”

He describes the healthcare law as “not built to last,” saying it needs to be repealed, or at least postponed – as Senate and House Republicans are currently asking. The business he started and owns now, Veritas LLC, consults with companies and brokers their benefit plans for employees, so he has become intimately familiar with law, which he said brought his industry to a grinding halt when it passed.

On guns, he calls for enforcement of existing laws, saying: “I don’t think that putting new regulations on gun owners is going to make our communities any safer.”

He strikes a libertarian tone on the issue of National Security Agency surveillance of U.S. citizens.

“You shouldn’t invade somebody’s privacy, period,” he said.

The fact that NSA officials claim it prevented multiple attacks on U.S. soil, he said, is not relevant.

“What also would have prevented dozens of attacks is just doing the hard work that needs to be done within the FBI, within the CIA, all these different places talking to each other,” he said.

He called Edward Snowden, who leaked knowledge of the programs, a “traitor,” but said the surveillance programs were “a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

“Democrat, Independent, Republican, Libertarian, everyone’s got one thing in common as an American: you highly value our freedom and our liberty. And in a country this size, you don’t lose it over night, you lose it by degree,” he said.

“And Dick Durbin is okay with the NSA, he’s okay with targeting by the IRS, he’s okay with the president doing whatever he wants even though congress has said this is what the law is, and now he’s ok with determining that maybe you don’t get your first amendment right as a journalist,” he added.

“He’s chipping away at our freedoms,” he said.

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