National Democrats and Republicans, intensely focused on Chicago's manicured North Shore suburbs as key political territory, are particularly invested in the contentious, increasingly expensive showdown between Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider and GOP challenger Bob Dold, who's fighting to reclaim his former seat. The Democrat-skewing district cuts through Cook and Lake counties, and includes tony Lake Forest, Highland Park and Deerfield, where Walgreens is headquartered. In 2012, Schneider defeated then-incumbent Dold by just 3,326 votes to win the 10th, 50.6-49.4 percent. Now Dold wants revenge, and his cash-flush conservative supporters are hell-bent on flipping the district back to red.
Schneider, a Deerfield businessman-turned-freshman congressman, is a self-avowed "moderate" Democrat who generally votes with the party on most legislation. He supports gay marriage and raising the minimum wage, among other politically progressive issues, and is among the richest—not to mention most vulnerable—lawmakers on the 2014 ticket.
Schneider raised some $2.8 million in campaign contributions during the first six months of the year, and with midterms up ahead, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is pouring tons of resources into a media blitz designed to slime Dold and keep the district blue.
Dold, a Kenilworth Republican, served in the House from 2011-2012 before losing to Schneider—a clear blow to the ego.
Campaigning two years later as a middle-of-the-road Republican who's fiscally pragmatic yet socially moderate—an appealing balance in the 10th—the businessman has played down his party affiliation in political ads and played up a jobs-focused platform.
The Rothenberg Political Report's Stuart Rothenberg dubbed the battleground showdown a "pure toss-up," meaning the Nov. 4 election could swing either direction. Tweaking his rating in July, the political analyst said: "Dold ran a strong race before and he appears to have a small advantage right now. Democrats have reason to worry that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn will meltdown outside of Chicago and affect the party's chances in House races. This contest should be very close once again and we're moving it from toss-up/tilt Democrat to pure toss-up."
Gov. Quinn has surged forward in September polling to threaten the GOP rival Bruce Rauner's seemingly invincible odds of snagging Springfield's highest seat. Quinn and his supporters are targeting the Winnetka venture capitalist over an unflattering string of PR hiccups including his confession that he once advocated to wipe out the minimum wage entirely. The governor's bounce-back and Rauner's sudden vulnerability could have an impact on the Schneider-Dold outcome.