Five candidates are vying to become the Republican nominee to run against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in November.
The three Tri-County Republican Party central committees partnered with the Morton Tea Party to host a candidate forum Tuesday at Five Points Washington.
You can listen to our full audio of the forum below, or read our brief synopes of the candidate positions.
Dr. Robert Marshall
Republican Senate candidate Robert Marshall says he's the most practical candidate to beat 23-year Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin.
The radiologist from suburban Burr Ridge says it's ultimately his part of the state which will determine who wins the general election, with Chicago dominated by Democrats and downstate skewing red.
"Where I live, that's where it's going to be decided. So if you want somebody who can win in those areas, I've been living there 35 years. To win there, you have to be moderate on social issues," he said.
Marshall is the only pro-choice candidate of the five Republicans running in the primary. He said he's also more moderate on LGBT rights and women's issues, while maintaining fiscal conservative views. He ran as a Democrat in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.
Republican Peggy Hubbard of Belleville said she'd bring the toughest fight to incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin in November.
Hubbard is one of five candidates running in the GOP March primary. She's the only woman and only African-American in the race.
"Time and time again, we put up the same candidates to try to take out Dick Durbin and it has not worked. Now look at me. I don't have to explain what I am and who I am. Dick Durbin doesn't stand a chance against me," she said.
Hubbard describes herself as pro-life, pro-NRA, pro-police and military, and an advocate of a merit-based immigration system. She says she's against cutting Social Security or Medicare benefits.
Republican Mark Curran said his experience as an elected official makes him the best pick to run against Democrat Dick Durbin this November.
Curran is the former Lake County sheriff and a former prosecutor. He said other Republican officeholders are endorsing him is because they "smell blood in the water."
"They look at it, and they say 'well, who's going to help me?' Because I'm going to be right there. And at the top is going to be President Trump, and we're going to be behind him, and we hope he does well. And then there's going to be the U.S. Senate," Curran said. "And if there's not a good candidate in the U.S. Senate, everybody downballot gets killed. So that's why there's the enthusiasm is behind my candidacy."
He said he believes life begins at conception, and comprehensive immigration reform is needed to keep the American workforce intact due to declining birth rates.
Dr. Tom Tarter
Springfield physician Tom Tarter says his service on multiple high-ranking medical boards makes him the most qualified Republican candidate for U.S Senate.
"The number one issue in this election is going to be healthcare. I don't have to have had elected positions to affect the lives of thousands, tens of thousands of people," Tarter said.
Tarter said the "Medicare for All" plan touted by many Democrats is just single-payer healthcare by another name. He said the better route is strengthening health savings accounts and increasing price transparency around the medical industry.
Tarter also said he supports the president on trade policy and wants to implement a merit-based immigration system.
Republican Casey Chlebek said he has a plan to help the Illinois economy if elected to the U.S. Senate. He's one of five candidates running for his party's nomination.
"I would like to designate in Illinois special industrial zones for advanced technologies, where we could develop technology for AI, 5G, quantum computing, robotics," Chlebek said.
Chlebek, a Polish immigrant and engineer by trade, also said he wants to overhaul the immigration system to admit people who "share our values," and educate American children about the dangers of "cultural Marxism" in schools.
He also said he's a proponent of paid maternity leave and a moratorium on accumulating student loan interest to help younger people pay off those debts.
The Illinois primary election is March 17.