Richard Joseph Durbin was born in East St. Louis, Illinois on 21 November 1944, and he graduated from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and Georgetown University Law Center. Durbin worked as a legal counsel throughout the 1970s and attempted to run for Lieutenant Governor in 1978, although his bid failed. In 1982, however, he was elected to the US House of Representatives from the Springfield-based 20th congressional district as a member of the Democratic Party, and he was elected to the US Senate in 1996. From 2005 to 2007, he served as House Minority Whip (succeeding Harry Reid and preceding Trent Lott), and he again assumed the position on 3 January 2015, succeeding John Cornyn. Durbin supported a woman's right to choose (while personally opposing abortion), supported the denial of visas to people involved in the Darfur War, supported increased funding for HIV/AIDS treatment facilities, voted against the Iraq War, supported tobacco regulations (his own father died of lung cancer from smoking two packs of Camel cigarettes a day), supported environmentalism, supported immigration reform, and opposed big business' involvement in the 2007-2008 financial crisis.