Who’s on the Ballot: What You Need to Know About Your US Senate Candidates

Ayesha Mohammed, Staff Writer

Election season has begun and many people are voting early or by mail in America. Often people vote for one party on every section without checking the policies of each candidate, which has caused a partisan divide in the country. Every state has two senators and every two years, ⅓ of the Senate is up for reelection which means the Senate elections are “staggered”. This year, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin is up for reelection for the first time since 2014 and Tammy Duckworth’s seat is secure until 2022. Here’s a little about him and each Senate candidate running against him so that you know what to expect on the ballot this year.


Incumbent Democrat Richard J. Durbin 


Durbin, who graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1969, has had a long career in politics. He has served four terms in the Senate starting in 1997 but in the past has also served as counsel to the Illinois State Senate Judiciary Committee and later in the House of Representatives. He sits on four Senate committees and serves as the Senate Minority Whip. His role as the Senate Minority Whip makes him an important figure in not only Illinois, but on the national stage. 

Durbin is in favor of many issues that align with the Democratic Party such as the Affordable Care Act passed by Obama as well as gun reforms that would still allow law-abiding and mentally stable citizens to legally carry firearms. He has also ensured law enforcement officials have resources to do their jobs but also supports reforms to the criminal justice system and was one of the lead authors of a bipartisan bill to make common-sense reforms known as the First Step Act. He is very pro-choice and is rated 100% by the organization Planned Parenthood who provide healthcare like abortions, STD testing, cancer screening, general care, etc. He also supports LGBT rights and was given a 100% by the HRC, a group dedicated to ending discrimination against the LGBT community. He is also very supportive of DACA and Dreamers across the country and has gone to the Senate floor several times to tell the stories of Dreamers and advocate for them. Durbin believes climate change is a big issue threatening the planet and supports cutting carbon emissions dramatically and was given a 100% by the League of Conservation Voters, an organization that seeks to enact environmental policies that address climate change. He also has come out multiple times against President Trump’s policies and handling of the COVID crisis which is not surprising considering the current polarization of the nation. 

Durbin is often referred to as a career politician and it is expected that he will this year again in this very blue state, though nothing is for certain until the night of the election! You can learn more about Durbin’s policies on his website: https://www.durbin.senate.gov/ and read more about his accomplishments in office and track record at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/richard_durbin/300038.


Republican Challenger Mark Curran Jr.

Of the four candidates on the ballot against Durbin, Mark Curran, former Lake County Sheriff and current attorney, seems the most viable. Curran graduated with a JD from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and has a lot of experience in the political and legal world. 

Curran’s stances align well with the Republican Party’s platform. He believes in the expansion of choice and competition in healthcare and opposes socialized medicine. He is firmly anti-abortion and believes abortion to be something his Catholic faith cannot stand for. Just two days after the passing of civil rights leader John Lewis, Curran criticized him calling him “not much of a civil rights leader” based on Lewis’ support of abortion rights. Curran also uses religion to back up his disapproval of restrictions that states have undergone aimed at stopping the spread of COVID, saying that “the devil is about fear and isolation” and restrictions should be lifted. Curran supports legal immigration and “merit-based immigration reform that is comprehensive, including building the wall, technology, border security through Homeland Security and ICE” but believes closing borders is a must and opposes sanctuary cities. He thinks that working with southern border countries to ensure asylum seekers can apply legally for immigration is the best step. Curran also is a strong supporter of law enforcement officials and believes in “backing the blue” and maintaining law and order. He believes that law enforcement officials are not racist, as some more left-leaning people claim, and that they are simply doing their jobs and serving their community. He does believe gay marriage should be legal as long as gay couples go through the same background checks as straight couples, an issue that is controversial within the GOP.

Though he does support most mainstream Republican ideals, has shown support for President Trump (despite criticism early on), and has been highlighted in a speech at a Wisconsin Trump rally that he attended, Curran does not have much monetary support from the GOP who believe the race to have a clear winner from the get-go. However, this can ultimately only be decided on the night of the election! To learn more about Mark Curran, you can visit his website: https://electcurran.com/.


Willie Wilson Party Challenger Willie Wilson

Willie Wilson, of the independent party the Willie Wilson Party, is a millionaire businessman and self-made philanthropist who has run for Chicago mayor twice and president in 2016 (before dropping out to vote for Donald Trump).

Wilson has been critical of President Trump more recently especially due to the president’s handling of the COVID crisis. He has said he believes not enough has been done for the poorer communities that have been left virtually defenseless in this pandemic. When asked what his top three priorities if elected, he answered that healthcare would be first, followed secondly by racial/social justice and equity and education and economic development third. Wilson believes strong police reform is needed to address police brutality. He also supports funding mental health programs and other social programs that past administrations have not focused on. Wilson is also known for his charitable work handing out cash and face masks to people he believes needs it as well as paying property taxes for those in need. Wilson is no stranger to working to pass bills which is evident by the fact that he was able to bring an executive order to the governor’s office to increase government contracting with black businesses in less than 60 days and get it signed. Wilson is sympathetic to immigrants as well and hopes that immigration reform can be discussed and passed in Congress though he thinks immigrants should apply legally and follow the rules of the country they immigrate to. He also advocates for a healthcare system where everyone has coverage and believes that social programs like this can be passed if the nation revisits its spending on the military, foreign aid, etc. Wilson says he believes in climate change but does not believe nature is impacted by humans alone and thinks deeper studies need to be done. 

Some of Wilson’s policies are similar to the Democratic Party slightly but some of his views are independent of the two major American parties. With the support of three aldermen, Chicago’s police union, and a group of mayors, there’s no telling how much support he’ll get this election and Dick Durbin has said he is taking Wilson as an opponent seriously. To read more about him you can read this interview: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/9/5/21355934/willie-wilson-party-senate-illinois-2020-general-election-candidate-profile.


Green Party Challenger David Black

David Black earned his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan and a law degree at DePaul. After retiring, he started a pro-bono volunteer effort to help expunge criminal records to help ex-inmates find employment. He’s been a voice for change and even earned the Peace Activist of the Year Award in 2006. He is running as a Green Party candidate to provide “a progressive alternative to the two-party monopoly” and though Green Party candidates have been largely laughed at as an impossible winner, it is still important to know his values.

Black’s stances are much more leftist than the other candidates. Black believes in universal healthcare, a $20 minimum wage, free education, debt relief, and affordable housing. Black believes that rather than funding police more, a demilitarization is necessary, and funding the root causes of crime would be more beneficial to lowering the crime rate and the rate of police brutality. He believes in climate change and thinks banning fracking, regenerative agriculture, and having 100% clean energy by 2030 are steps that are needed to combat climate change. He also thinks world peace needs to be a bigger priority and proposes a 75% cut to military spending as well as a shutdown of US foreign bases and an end to regime change operations. Black also is supportive of DREAMers and has helped many in completing DACA renewals and applications. Black also believes democracy in America needs to be fundamentally changed and calls for ranked-choice voting, ending voter suppression, abolishing the electoral college, voting rights for felons, etc. 

If these stances are something you support consider learning more about him and his policies at his website: https://www.davidblackforsenate.org/platform or reading an interview by the Chicago Sun Times here: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/9/5/21357465/david-black-senate-illinois-green-party-nominee-candidate-profile-2020-general-election.


Libertarian Challenger Danny Malouf

Danny Malouf, a 32 year old HR Manager and youth wrestling coach who graduated with a bachelor’s in accounting, is the Libertarian Party’s candidate in this election. His stances are in line with the Libertarian Party’s views on small government and little interference with the people.

Malouf believes the government needs to step back from the everyday lives of its citizens. He believes the government needs to get out of the way and stop signing bills that “inhibit the free market’s response to the pandemic” and lead “to shortages of personal protective equipment, sanitization products, and testing capabilities”. He believes decision making should be localized as close to the individual person as possible. Malouf believes in ending the war on drugs, qualified immunity, no knock raids, and the militarization of police forces-all things many that are frustrated with police brutality advocate for. Malouf believes healthcare should be left to the free market with no government regulation and believes that is the best way to ensure an abundance of care and a reduction in costs. He also believes in climate change but thinks the government should stay out of it and let individuals make their own choices to help the environment. Malouf most strongly supports bringing our troops home, repealing the Patriot Act, and abolishing the Federal Reserve. 

Malouf is a candidate many libertarians like and if you would like to learn more about him, you can visit his website at https://www.danny2020.com/ and read a Chicago Sun Times interview at https://chicago.suntimes.com/2020/9/5/21363850/danny-malouf-senate-libertarian-nominee-candidate-profile-2020-general-election-illinois.


Whatever your political leanings are, there is almost certainly a candidate in the race who you are likely to agree with. From Mark Curran to David Black, there are candidates with several different ideologies. Though the winner of this race may seem clear-cut, nothing is set in stone until the night of the election so I highly encourage you to vote!