Former congressman Brad Schneider is locked in a tight race for incumbent Republican Rep. Bob Dold’s 10th Congressional District House seat. Schneider unseated Dold in the 2012 election, but was beat in a 2014 rematch.
In an exclusive interview with Ward Room Monday afternoon, Schneider discussed his most recent campaign, working toward bipartisan solutions in Washington and supporting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“If you look at my record, you look at my focus, I think my priorities and values better reflect the broad priorities and values within the district,” Schneider said.
The Democrat faulted his opponent for supporting a Republican budget that would reduce access to Pell Grants for higher education and cut funding for Medicare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, among other things. Schneider explained that he doesn’t want to cut Medicare, raise the retirement age for social security or make education further out of reach.
“As I’ve talked to people around the district, I hear the same message over and over,” Schneider said. “A sense that this district was better served when I was in Congress by my team and the work we did at home and better represented by the votes I took when I was in Congress.”
Schneider pointed to some key differences between himself and Dold. He claimed Dold hasn’t supported an assault weapon ban and has supported a Republican budget that would defund Obamacare. He also pointed to his endorsement from Naral Pro Choice America, slamming Dold for introducing legislation that would’ve shut down planned Parenthood clinics for 90 days.
Dold broke with Republicans last year, voting against defunding Planned Parenthood after videos emerged showing executives discussing fetuses for research purposes, according to the Daily Herald. Instead, Dold had previously introduced legislation to take federal funding from a handful of clinics that get money for aborted fetus tissue while they were investigated for 90 days.
“This is the third time we’re running against each other, we have track records, we have positions that are clear,” Schneider said. “My positions have been consistent from the day I started running in the 2012 race. They haven’t changed so that the voters in this district know in me they have someone they can count on all the time irrespective of the political whims.””
"As whims change, voters want to know that whoever represents them is going to stay consistent on the positions that they take. From marriage equality to protecting our environment to standing up for immigration reform,” he added.
Additionally, Schneider faulted former House Speaker John Boehner and current House Speaker Paul Ryan for not bringing comprehensive immigration reform to the floor for a vote. Schneider said he hopes immigration reform is one of the first bills he gets to work on if he’s elected. He claimed it “would affect every one of our communities in the country."
He also faulted Republican leadership for failing to bring a “no fly, no buy” gun amendment to a vote, despite multiple Democratic attempts to pass it. The measure would limit the sale of firearms to terrorist suspects.
“Not a single Republican, including my opponent, has been willing to cross the line and join with the Democrats to bring that to a vote,” Schneider said. “We’ve got to break through that gridlock. I will support any piece of gun legislation that will bring safety to our communities, will help save lives.”
However, Dold called for a vote on the Denying Firearms and Dangerous Explosives to Terrorists Act in June following the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, according to Crain's Chicago Business. That measure would also limit the sale of firearms and explosives to terror suspects.
Nevertheless, Schneider championed bipartisan solutions in Congress throughout the interview. After being asked how he would push things like comprehensive immigration reform and gun control reform in a potentially Republican-controlled House, he claimed he would only support a speaker who would commit to bringing those measures to a vote.
In terms of the presidential race, Schneider once again pledged his support for Clinton. Since December of last year, Dold has worked to distance himself from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In May, he confirmed to WLS-AM's John Howell that he would not endorse Trump's candidacy.
Schneider also claimed he was primarily focused on the concerns of his district's constituency. He said voters are concerned about jobs and the economy, college affordability, health care and having a “secure and dignified retirement."
“They’re worried about the world in general and they look at Congress where nothing is getting done. They scratch their head and say, ‘How is it possible that last month there was talk about shutting down the government yet again. Not over issues that affect our day to day lives, but over the interworking battles within the Republican Party,’” Schneider said. “And they want someone who’s going to go to Washington and focus on the priorities and the values they care about here at home.”
The Democrat stressed the need to invest in infrastructure, build manufacturing and focus on education in the future.
Schneider beat out Dold in the 2012 election when voter turnout was bolstered by the last presidential election. Turnout dipped in 2014 and Dold bested him in the midterm. In the lead-up to next month’s election, Schneider said his main priority is getting the vote out and meeting with voters and prospective voters.