DEERFIELD, IL.---The four Democrats running in the Illinois tenth district primary displayed no substantial policy differences at a forum Saturday and none showed much appetite for tearing into Rep. Bob Dold, the freshman Republican with a bulls eye on his back.
The session, hosted by WCPT, Chicago's Progressive Talk Station and Tenth Dems, the powerhouse local political organization so liberal it has buttons saying so, drew a packed house at the Deerfield Hyatt.
Brad Schneider, Ilya Sheyman, John Tree and Vivek Bavda meet again on Sunday for another forum, this one at the Highland Park Country Club, 1201 Park Ave. West, in the North Shore suburb. Despite the name, the club is public, so anyone can come.
The Sunday event is cosponsored by the Leagues of Women Voters of Highland Park/Highwood, Lake Forest/Lake Bluff/Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview and the Union League Club.
Illinois Democrats remapped the north and northwest suburban tenth district in 2011 to tilt Democratic in the November election. The district includes Cook and Lake County suburbs: it hugs Lake Michigan, taking in Glencoe, Highland Park, Waukegan, Zion and Winthrop Harbor and stretching west to include Northbrook, Buffalo Grove, Libertyville and Round Lake Beach.
National Democrats are poised to dump a lot of money in the district once the March 20 Illinois primary yields a nominee and freshman Dold, from Kenilworth, will have gobs of GOP money from around the country to watch his back. Schneider lives in Deerfield; Sheyman, Waukegan; Tree, Long Grove and Bavda, Mundelein.
The stakes are high
Lauren Beth Gash, the chair of Tenth Dems, shooed a Republican tracker she spotted away. Both parties use trackers--operatives with cameras or some kind of recording device--who go to events if they can get in--to gather information to be used to impale the competition.
By measure of buttons and stickers, the audience of Democratic activists in Deerfield seemed largely in the Schneider and Sheyman camps--logical, since those are the two running the biggest campaigns. Tree, a latecomer in the race, had a contingent too.
But by the buzz I heard roaming the hall--filled with veterans of valiant but failed tenth House Democratic campaigns--Abner Mikva was the last Democrat to win this turf and that was in 1978--many came to kick the Sheyman, Schneider and Tree tires.
*Biggest sparks came when Sheyman hit Schneider for a series of contributions he made to the Republican House and Senate campaigns of now Sen. Mark Kirk. (Kirk is recovering from a stroke at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.)
Contributions to Republicans, Sheyman said--noting the GOP controls the House and most recently has been trying to weaken access to contraception--"have consequences " for "the overall agenda."
Those contributions have been an issue Schneider has been dealing with since the beginning of the contest.
"The vast majority of my contributions have been to Democrats," Schneider said, highlighting his work in the campaigns of former Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) in a neighboring district. (Bean was narrowly beat by Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) in 2010.)
*Tree, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, said he was for cuts in military spending and because he is in the military he said he would have the ability to make the case in Congress--and be immune to Republican accusations of being weak on defense.
"If you're not in the military and you're a Democrat and you call for a cut in defense spending, the Republicans will hand you your head on a platter," Tree said.
*Sheyman, Schneider and Tree talked in generalities about some standard Democratic/Obama White House talking point agenda items--for example, spending for infrastructure and ending Bush-era tax cuts, seemingly oblivious to the partisan gridlock that has hit Congress.
Bavda injected a dose of reality, noting that it takes a filibuster-proof 60 votes to get anything passed in the Senate--a very difficult hurdle to clear.
Said Bavda, "All those great things my colleagues mention, have no chance of making it through a filibuster."
Gash writes to amplifies about the buttons Tenth Dems offer in reply to what I wrote:
"FYI, we made political buttons that say "Liberal,' because some of our members requested them. We also have buttons that say "Democrat," "Obama" in Hebrew, "Cuatro Anos Mas," "Obama 2012," and many other items like bumper stickers and crystal donkey pins.. Some of our members call themselves liberals, while other members call themselves centrists, moderates, progressives, Independents, and even conservatives (really -- they think that the Republicans are just too intrusive). The "Liberal" button is just one of dozens that we've made."