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Illinois Ten Democratic primary: John Tree, Air Force reservist, jumps in race

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WASHINGTON--John Tree, a businessman and Air Force reservist who has worked in Israel with the Israeli Air Force, is jumping in the 10th District Democratic primary, joining the two other major contenders who want to defeat freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.).

Tree's late entry in the race comes as Democrats Ilya Sheyman and Brad Schneider have been campaigning for months in the north suburban and North Shore communities--but neither has solidified Democratic support.

"Democrats are hungry for a win and ready to work for it," said Lauren Beth Gash, Democratic state central committeewoman for the 10th District. "...They are looking for a candidate they can get strongly behind."

Gash said Tree was an "incredibly impressive candidate which is not to say the other candidates in the race aren't."

Tree makes his candidacy official on Thursday. He already has mustered a team of political professionals with experience in Illinois campaigns.

"No one has really consolidated Democratic support" in the tenth said Peter Giangreco, a Tree advisor who will also handle his direct mail. "There have been a few endorsements but there is nobody who can really talk about jobs and deliver a critique of Bob Dold in the way John Tree can."

Tree brings a compelling resume that will make him competitive in the district, which has a large Jewish population and was represented for years by now Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) a Navy reserve officer who made U.S.-Israel relations a major agenda item. Democratic mapmakers in Springfield drew new boundaries for the 10th intended to make it easier for a Democrat to win in 2012. That map is now being challenged by Illinois Republicans in federal court.

The son of an Air Force fighter pilot, Tree is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He took a break from college to spend two years as a missionary in Haiti. Leaving active duty in 1997, Tree now is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He serves as a senior reservist to the Director of Global Combat Support for the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon.

Tree's experience with the Israeli military will be an asset in this race. He was chief of West Mediterranean Logistics for the 16th Air Force in 1995, responsible for Tunisia, Israel and Morocco. He's made a dozen visits to Israel, collaborating on military security his campaign said, with the Israeli Air Force.


Tree, 45, is a Long Grove resident. His business career has focused on the foods industry, working with brands at Procter & Gamble and Kellogg. He is the CEO of Caymen Ventures, a company with holdings in the healthy food industry. Tree holds an MBA from Chaminade University in Hawaii and a Masters in Economics from the University of Oklahoma. Tree and his wife, Michelle, are the parents of four surviving children. Their oldest Stephanie died from an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2011.

Dold has a massive warchest and does not have to spend it on a primary. Dold raised $1,232,349 so far and has $994,633 cash on hand. Schneider raised $500,147, including $150,028 he loaned his campaign. He has $417,017 cash on hand. Sheyman raised $258,9000 so far and had $141,514 cash on hand.

below, biography released from Tree campaign....

John Tree is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, a successful businessman, former collegiate athlete, a husband and a father of five children.

The son of a career Air Force Fighter Pilot and combat veteran, John lived in eighteen different places by the time he entered college at the United States Air Force Academy. His family of eight struggled at times living on a single military paycheck, but his upbringing was rich with experience as John grew up in communities across the country and across the world.

Between his second and third year at the Air Force Academy, John spent two years as a missionary in Haiti where he encountered devastating poverty, malnutrition, high infant mortality and humbling hardship. His mission building homes and tending to those in desperate need changed his life, inspiring him to always to stand up for those in need.

John left Air Force active duty in 1997 and currently serves in the Air Force Reserve as the Senior Reservist to the Director of Global Combat Support for the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon. During the course of his military career, John has earned over twenty-eight awards and decorations, making him one of the most highly decorated Colonels in the Air Force.

John's private sector career as an entrepreneur and a healthy foods executive has been diverse and equally successful. He started his business career as an Assistant Brand Manager for Procter & Gamble and then worked as a Senior Brand Manager and Marketing Director at The Kellogg Company, President of a local small natural foods business with twenty employees, and along with his wife Michelle, a Wharton MBA Graduate, ran a business from their own home helping companies market their healthy food and drink brands.

John Tree understands how economies grow, and how businesses succeed and create jobs. He holds an MBA from Chaminade University in Hawaii and a Masters in Economics from the University of Oklahoma.

In May of 2011, John was working at the Pentagon as the debate over the debt ceiling was unfolding in Congress. John was part of planning the Pentagon's efforts to tell our troops in forward war zones that they would not get paid in the event of a government shutdown.

John was motivated to run for Congress when it became clear that extremists in Congress put their narrow partisan interests ahead of our shared national interests.

Knowing what it was like to grow up in a military family living paycheck to paycheck, John decided then and there he would get directly into the fight to protect middle-class families. He is running for Congress to protect our promise to veterans and seniors by bringing an end to the bitter partisanship that is failing our Country.
John would bring broad experience to Congress on both economic and foreign policy matters.

In 1995, Tree served as Chief of West Mediterranean Logistics for the 16th Air Force, responsible for logistics support for Tunisia, Morocco and Israel. John was on the ground in Israel on twelve different occasions collaborating with the Israeli Air Force on military security. His security clearance allowed him to see realities that most Americans don't see, fueling his strong support for the State of Israel.

John is married to Michelle Tree and they have had five children. Their oldest daughter Stephanie died tragically from an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2011.


Tree's campaign team:

Ken Snyder and Terrie Pickerill of Snyder-Pickerill of Chicago for media. Their clients include Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth.

Terry Walsh and Pete Giangreco of The Strategy Group of Evanston for direct mail and strategy. Their clients have included President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and congressional candidates Bill Foster and Tammy Duckworth.

Jeff Liszt of Anzalone-Liszt Research for polling. Their clients have included Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Senate President John Cullerton, State Senator Susan Garrett, and former 10th District Democratic congressional candidate dan seals.

Nick Daggers and Brett Smiley for Campaign Finance Officers. Their clients have included Illinois Members of Congress Bill Foster and Melissa Bean.

Kari Chisholm of Mandate Media. Their clients include congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth and Bill Foster

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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