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Dick Durbin is an American politician whose notable career kicked off in the mid-1970s as a Democrat. Prior to his venture into the world of politics, Durbin practised law.
He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years from 1983 to 1997, representing Illinois’s 20th district and began serving as the US Senator from Illinois shortly afterwards. Since 2005, Dick Durbin has been serving as the Assistant Democratic Leader which makes him the second in command in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party leadership. He was the Senate Minority Whip for two years between 2005 and 2007, the Senate Majority Whip from 2007 to 2015. Durbin became the minority whip yet again in 2015.
Dick Durbin’s Biography
Dick Durbin was born Richard Joseph Durbin on November 21, 1944, in East St. Louis, Illinois. His father William Durbin was of Irish-American ethnicity while his mother, Anna (née Kutkin) was Lithuanian.
Dick Durbin attended Assumption High School in East St. Louis and graduated in 1962. He attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service from where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1966. As a college senior, he interned at the office of Illinois Senator Paul Douglas.
He was elected into the Illinois bar in 1969, shortly after earning his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. He began his practice at the state’s capital of Springfield, working as a legal counsel to Lieutenant Governor Paul Simon from 1969 to 1972.
Durbin worked the same job role for the Illinois State Senate Judiciary Committee from 1972 to 1982. While there, he vied for the Illinois State Senate seat in 1976 but was unsuccessful. He lost his second try at an electoral seat in 1978 when as the running mate of Michael Bakalis, they were beaten to the Lieutenant Governor seat by Republican incumbents, Jim Thompson, and Dave O’Neal.
Dick Durbin took a brief break from politics and worked as an adjunct professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For five years, he simultaneously worked at the school and practiced his legal profession.
Going back to politics, Durbin won his next try at an electoral seat in 1982. He beat the Republican incumbent, Paul Findley – the U.S. House of Representative member representing the 20th congressional district. Dick Durbin went on to win 6 re-elections to the seat with thumping numbers.
After long-time Democratic Senator Paul Simon announced his retirement, Dick Durbin won the party’s ticket to the seat and defeated Republican Al Salvi in the general elections to become the 47th U.S. Senator from the State of Illinois. He has been re-elected to the seat in 2002, 2008, and 2014. In the Senate, Dick Durbin has worked on several committees including the Committee on Appropriations, Committee on the Judiciary of which he was the ranking member for the Subcommittee on the Constitution, as well as the Committee on Rules and Administration.
Family Life, Wife – Loretta Schaefer Durbin
Dick Durbin is married to Loretta Schaefer Durbin. The couple has been together in matrimony since 1967. Loretta is a retired lobbyist. Her job became a topic of much talks when in 2014, the reported that there have been instances of conflicts of interests between Durbin and his wife, stating a couple of instances when his wife’s clients received federal funding promoted by Durbin.
One of those instances included a state university of which Loretta was its lobbyist, receiving money through an earmark by Durbin. However, the Durbins have said they avoid conflict of interest as much as possible but opposition maintains that the instances are more than just mere coincidence.
Before becoming a lobbyist, Loretta worked as an assistant for two Democratic lawmakers in the Illinois Senate from 1985 to 1994. She also worked for the Illinois Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation tasked with tracking federal funds and legislation.
Her career as a lobbyist began in 1977 when she joined forces with Republican, Alice Phillips, to form the lobbyist firm, Government Affairs Specialists Inc. The firm became defunct in 2011 when Phillips retired. Loretta continued lobbying and started her own firm – Government Affairs Consulting LLC, which she ran until her retirement in 2014.
Durbin and his wife had three children together but their first child, daughter, Christine passed away on the 1st of November 2008 from complications due to a congenital heart condition. She was 40 years old. Their two living children include; Jennifer – born in 1971 and Paul Durbin born in 1969. Durbin and his wife have at least 3 grandchildren.