Dick Durbin is an American politician whose remarkable career began in the mid-1970s as a Democrat. Before his foray into the world of politics, Durbin worked as a lawyer.
From 1983 to 1997, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 14 years, representing the 20th District of Illinois, and shortly thereafter began serving as U.S. Senator of Illinois. Since 2005 Dick Durbin has served as Assistant Democratic Leader, making him the second in command in the Democratic Party leadership hierarchy. From 2005 to 2007 he was the Senate Minority Whip for two years and from 2007 to 2015 the Senate Majority Whip. In 2015 Durbin again became the Minority Whip.
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 descent, while his mother Anna (née Kutkin) was Lithuanian.
Dick Durbin attended Assumption High School in East St. Louis and graduated in 1962. He attended the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1966. As a college graduate, he completed an internship in the office of Illinois Senator Paul Douglas.
He was elected to the Illinois Bar in 1969, shortly after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center. He began his practice in the state capital of Springfield, where he served as the legal advisor to Deputy Governor Paul Simon from 1969 to 1972.
From 1972 to 1982, Durbin served in the same capacity on the Judiciary Committee of the Illinois State Senate. There he fought for a seat in the Illinois State Senate in 1976 but was unsuccessful. He lost his second attempt to win an electoral seat in 1978 when he was beaten as Michael Bakalis’ candidate by Republican incumbents Jim Thompson and Dave O’Neal for the seat of vice-governor.
Dick Durbin took a short break from politics and worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Illinois Medical School. For five years he worked simultaneously at the school and practiced law.
Durbin returned to politics and won his next attempt at an electoral seat in 1982. He beat Republican incumbent Paul Findley – the member of the United States House of Representatives who won the 20th Dick Durbin then won 6 re-elections for the seat with overwhelming numbers.
After longtime Democratic Senator Paul Simon announced his resignation, Dick Durbin won the party’s ticket to the seat and defeated Republican Al Salvi in the general election for the 47th U.S. Senator for the State of Illinois. He was re-elected to the seat in 2002, 2008, and 2014. In the Senate, Dick Durbin has served on several committees, including the Budget Committee, the Judiciary Committee, of which he was the senior member on the Constitution Subcommittee, and the Rules and Administration Committee.
Family Life, Wife – Loretta Schaefer Durbin
Dick Durbin is married to Loretta Schaefer Durbin. The couple has been married since 1967. Loretta is a retired lobbyist. Her work was much talked about when the Chicago Tribune reported in 2014 that there had been cases of conflict of interest between Durbin and his wife, with some cases cited where his wife’s clients were receiving federal funding from Durbin.
One of these cases included a state university where Loretta was a lobbyist and received money from Durbin through earmarking. The Durbins, however, have stated that they avoid conflicts of interest as much as possible, but the opposition claims that these cases are more than just a coincidence.
Before becoming a lobbyist, Loretta worked as an assistant to two Democratic legislators in the Illinois Senate from 1985 to 1994. She also worked for the Illinois Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation, whose job was to track federal funds and legislation.
Her career as a lobbyist began in 1977 when she joined forces with Republican Alice Phillips to form the lobbying firm Government Affairs Specialists Inc. The firm was dissolved in 2011 when Phillips retired. Loretta continued her lobbying work and founded her own company – Government Affairs Consulting LLC, which she managed until her retirement in 2014.
Durbin and his wife had three children together, but their first child, daughter Christine, died on November 1, 2008, from complications due to a congenital heart defect. 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.