Dold, Schneider face off in 10th district rematch

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With Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump polling terribly low in suburban areas around the country, GOP congressmen have been faced with headwinds so strong, it may hand the Democrats a previously unthinkable majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Perhaps no one faces a steeper battle than Rep. Bob Dold of Illinois’ 10th congressional district. Comprising much of Chicago’s wealthy North Shore, the district has an overwhelming Democratic lean at the presidential level, but a fierce independent streak down ballot — something Dold is relying on even more than usual this year as he seeks to defeat his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Brad Schneider.

An added wrinkle is that these candidates are both well-known. Dold, first elected in 2010 riding the Tea Party wave, was narrowly defeated by Schneider in 2012. Dold challenged Schneider to a rematch in 2014 and won narrowly in another bad midterm election for Democrats.

Representing what many call the most Democratic district held by a Republican, Dold has done his part in separating himself from the national party. He was the first to disavow Trump and has consistently played up his bipartisan credentials and the results he’s gotten for his constituents.

“Ultimately, we’ve been ranked as one of the most independent, bipartisan and effective member of congress,” Dold said following a debate at Glenbrook South High School in north suburban Glenview. “It’s the reason we did pass laws.”

“So, let me just give you an example, Chelsea LaLiberte, a Buffalo Grove resident, loses her

brother at the age of 20. Talking to her and other stakeholders her, this is a huge problem as we look at the prescription drug epidemic, the heroin overdoses,” he said. “I drafted a law, worked with my colleagues, passed a law, President Obama signed it, it’s going to save lives. And you can say that’s not working, but that’s actually working together and getting things done.”

Dold has many other examples he lists off, an attempt to localize a race in a year his party faces the wrath of the national ticket. Indeed, Trump is extremely unpopular in the district. This is a problem for Dold as it sets up a scenario where he can greatly outperform Trump, but still come up short.

Internal polls have shown conflicting narratives. While strikingly similar in their assessment of the presidential race, 53-30 vs. 53-31 Clinton over Trump, a Democratic poll showed Schneider up 10 points while a Republican poll revealed a seven point advantage for Dold.

Schneider believes he has the advantage because his vote in Congress better represented the

district no matter how bipartisan Dold was.

“As I talk around the district, I hear the same thing over and over again. I hear people tell me that when I was in office, this district was better served by the work we did at home and better represented by the votes I took in the Capitol,” Schneider said. “And they want someone who will focus on their issues, pay attention to their priorities. For me, I understand that the economy is the most important issue. An economy that’s growing, but growing from the middle-out working for everybody.”

In a debate in mid-October, Schneider and Dold would trade barbs on the issue of bipartisanship. Schneider pointed out the importance of which party controls Congress in which bills get brought to the floor. His point: Dold’s bipartisanship doesn’t matter much if Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House.

“Mr. Dold voted 28 times to block ‘no-fly, no buy’ from coming to the floor for a vote. He won’t even sign the simple petition that would force the speaker to bring it to the floor for a vote,” Schneider said. “He can say all he wants about supporting a piece of legislation, being a cosponsor of a piece of legislation, but if he is blocking that piece of legislation moving through congress becoming law, he’s not part of the solution, he’s part of the problem.”

To that, Dold would say look at the record, both in votes and support from the likes of local leaders to editorial boards. Dold sounded proud when he pointed out that “six of six papers said throw Brad out of office and bring me back” in 2014.

Despite the divergent polling data and barbs on issues from Israel to guns, Dold and Schneider are both relatively moderate candidates, Dold probably slightly more so. And if history is any indication, this race will be decided within a couple thousand votes.