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Democrat Dick Durbin to face Senate challenge from Chicago businessman

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A Chicago businessman says he plans to challenge longtime U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who will be seeking a fifth term in November.

Willie Wilson, who previously challenged former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2018, announced his independent candidacy Thursday, FOX 32 of Chicago reported.

Meeting with reporters, Wilson tore into Durbin, the current Senate minority whip.

“He’s been a failure all his life in politics. He never had a job,” Wilson said about the 75-year-old incumbent. “When he got out of law school, all he did was went into office. He spent other people's money – taxpayers.’ Hasn't spent nothin' of his own.”

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“When [Durbin] got out of law school, all he did was went into office. He spent other people's money – taxpayers.’ "

— Willie Wilson, independent U.S. Senate candidate

Wilson, who claims to be a multimillionaire, intends to self-finance his campaign, according to FOX 32.

When reached by Chicago’s WLS-TV, Durbin campaign manager Greg Bales disputed Wilson’s claim of independence, saying the candidate was really a Republican.

“Dr. Wilson is not an independent. He's a Republican who publicly supported Donald Trump, [former Illinois Gov.] Bruce Rauner, and contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates this election,” Bales said.

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“On police reform, he [Wilson] opposes the Congressional Black Caucus and every major civil rights organization -- including the NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund -- and instead supports Trump's position. A vote for Wilson is a vote for Trump and a Mitch McConnell-controlled U.S. Senate.”

"A vote for Wilson is a vote for Trump and a Mitch McConnell-controlled U.S. Senate.”

— Greg Bales, Durbin campaign manager

But Wilson said Thursday that the upcoming election would be a referendum on Durbin, not the president.

“This race is not about President Trump. It's about me and Dick Durbin,” Wilson said, according to FOX 32. “So that is some old news. We all have supported different people for different reasons. This is my own party. I'm not a Republican or Democrat.”

“This race is not about President Trump. It's about me and Dick Durbin.”

— Willie Wilson, independent U.S. Senate candidate

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., left, will be seeking a fifth term but challenger Willie Wilson, an independent, hopes to unseat him.

In May, Wilson was critical of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, both Democrats, for ordering churches closed as part of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, WLS reported.

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Wilson later offered to pay the fines of churches that held services in defiance of the Democrats’ orders, according to the station.

Durbin apologizes

Durbin, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., served in the U.S. House from 1983 to 1997 and has been in the U.S. Senate since then, after being elected in 1996. He holds seats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee.

In June, Durbin apologized to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., after referring to the African-American senator’s police-reform bill as a “token” approach to addressing police issues.

Scott responded on the Senate floor by saying Durkin’s choice of words “hurts us all.”

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The Republican also mocked Durbin and other Democrats for wearing African kente cloths during a photo opportunity when they introduced their version of the police-reform bill.

“Y’all still wearing those kente cloths over there @SenatorDurbin?” Scott wrote on Twitter.

In addition to the independent Wilson, Durbin will face a challenge from Republican candidate Mark Curran in November.

Dom Calicchio Fox News

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