Meet Dick Durbin
Dick Durbin’s work to strengthen Illinois’ middle-class families is deeply rooted in his own personal history. He was born and raised in the working class Illinois town of East St. Louis, the son of parents who both worked for the railroad -- his mother as a clerk, his father as a stevedore. Dick attended Assumption High School in East St. Louis and spent summers working in stockyards, railroads, and slaughterhouses to help pay for his college education.
After earning undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University, Dick opened a law practice in Springfield, IL, served as legal counsel to then-Lt. Governor and future Illinois U.S. Senator Paul Simon, as well as to the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee, and also worked as an adjunct professor at the Southern Illinois School of Medicine.
In 1982, Dick ran for the Springfield congressional seat once held by Abraham Lincoln and pulled a surprising upset over a 22-year incumbent, a victory that would be the first of many successful challenges to entrenched and powerful interests in Dick Durbin’s career.
Shaped by the death of his father, a two pack-a-day smoker, from lung cancer when Dick was 14, the new congressman soon took on big tobacco companies, one of the most powerful and influential special interests in the country. He won a ban on smoking on commercial airline flights of less than two hours in 1988, a ban eventually expanded to all domestic flights, launching a movement that has greatly improved the health and safety of generations of Americans.
His fight to protect the health of families and children extended to food and toy safety. Dick became the recognized national leader in making sure the food we eat is safe, increasing food safety inspections, pushing for stronger protections to keep tainted food off the market, and strengthening safeguards that protect our children from toys with lead or dangerous chemicals.
His success in taking on powerful interests on behalf of hard-working middle-class families gained traction when, in 1996, Dick ran for and won the U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Paul Simon.
Dick became a leading foe of Wall Street’s excess, authoring legislation to establish a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the wake of the economic meltdown of 2008, and he fought against the big banks for reform of interchange or “swipe” fees charged to retailers and debit card users.
Even as he vigorously challenges the status quo to protect average Illinoisans, Dick Durbin always works to promote a constructive dialogue with his colleagues that encourages common sense solutions. He was one of the “Gang of Six” senators from both parties that worked together for a bipartisan solution to the federal deficit. Dick led both Republicans and Democrats in forging an important compromise that passed Congress and was signed by the president in 2013, capping student loan rates and making college more affordable for middle-class families and their children.
Ranked as one of America’s Ten Best Senators by Time magazine, Dick Durbin is currently the first Illinois senator in 56 years to hold the post of second in leadership in the U.S. Senate, positioning him well to continue taking on the tough fights for Illinois’ middle-class families and our state’s economic interests.
Dick Durbin resides in Springfield with his wife Loretta. They are the parents of three children and the proud grandparents of Alex, Ona, and Floyd.