10TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT | Battle for the center in North Shore race to replace Kirk
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH
Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter
CHICAGO--The North Shore suburban 10th Congressional District is wealthy, socially liberal, and for the last 10 years has sent a self-styled moderate Republican, Mark Kirk, to Washington.
Republican nominee Bob Dold has tried to fashion himself in that same mold, as a moderate businessman with Capitol Hill experience.
But Democratic nominee Dan Seals, a business consultant making his third try for this seat, says Dold is a conservative trying to fit into moderate clothing.
First came the Illinois Federation for the Right to Life and Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum rescinding their testimonials for Dold after the primary election when Dold clarified that he is "pro-choice" on abortion.
Then Conservative Magazine of Illinois reported in a voter guide that Dold's "campaign asks that he not be rated highly by our voter guide [indicating that he wishes to be viewed as moderate.]"
Dold denied he or his campaign begged off a high rating from the magazine.
"I'm pro-choice," Dold said. "I believe Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. I said that in the primary."
Dold isn't sure how he initially got the good reviews from the anti-abortion groups, except that perhaps they agreed with his stands against taxpayer funding of abortion; against partial-birth abortions and in favor of notifying parents when their minor daughters get abortions.
That's the same "moderate" abortion stand Kirk held, Dold said. Seals opposes all restrictions on abortion.
Some groups that endorsed Kirk, who is now running for Senate, over Seals in past elections -- the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign -- are with Seals this time.
But as Dold has taken care not to appear too conservative, Seals has tacked right to avoid appearing too liberal. In past races, he agreed with President Obama about ending President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. But since the bottom fell out of the economy, Seals now says he wants to continue all the tax cuts until the economy recovers -- the same position Dold holds. Seals also parts company with Obama on whether to raise the capital-gains tax for the wealthiest. Seals opposes that.
Is that pandering to the district's wealthy voters?
"I think you don't raise taxes on anybody until the economy is better," Seals said.
Seals criticizes Dold's advocacy on behalf of the pest control industry, including lobbying Congress against a bill to require schools to notify parents before using pesticides during the school day.
"One of the reasons why the Sierra Club [endorsed Seals] is [Dold] advocated for the use of pesticides in schools with students present without parents being notified," Seals said.
"Illinois already has stricter laws . . . They take that little thing and scare people with it," Dold said, noting that companies such as his use safe practices.
In general, both candidates support their parties' respective stands on Obama's health care plan (Seals supports; Dold opposes); closing Guantanamo (Seals supports; Dold opposes) letting unions have greater control of workplace votes to organize (Seals supports; Dold opposes); and many of the other issues confronting Congress.
Both candidates stress bringing jobs back to the district -- Dold through shrinking the size of government; Seals without growing government but with smarter policies, he said.
Seals has the advantage of name recognition over Dold, having run three times for the seat, but some voters may view him as damaged goods -- he eked out a 2 percent victory in the primary election over Julie Hamos.
Seals, 39, is the son of former Chicago Bear George Seals. He grew up in Hyde Park, studied journalism at Boston University and taught high school in Japan. He held executive posts at Sprint and GE Capital and taught business at Northwestern University.
Dold, 41, is president and 30 percent owner of his family's Northfield-based Rose Pest Solutions. He was born and raised in Winnetka. He worked in the White House under President George H.W. Bush and served as an investigative counsel for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee before coming back to the suburbs to work at the family business.
The debate was held at the Union League Club of Chicago.