Just three Democrats have represented Illinois' 10th Congressional District since 1873. This year, in a red versus blue tug of war, Democrats believe they have one of their best chances of capturing a rival seat.
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-10) has represented this north shore district since 2001. When he decided to challenge for the old senate seat of Barack Obama, the 10th District became an open election and by all estimates, a very tight race.
When asked about issues such as women’s rights, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, tax cuts, social security, and ways to remedy the state’s broken budget, both candidates seem to be edging closer toward the middle in hopes of snagging independent and undecided voters.
On the Bush tax cuts: Dold favors making them permanent while Seals says they ought to be temporary.
Both candidates identify themselves as being pro-choice. Seals favors allowing gays and Lesbians to marry.
"It’s a civil rights issue," he said.
"I believe that marriage is between a man and woman, but I don’t want to prevent same-sex partners from being able to be in loving relationships." he said.
Both candidates are calling one another out on wearing a mask of moderation.
Having consistently voted Republican since 1980, the 10th Congressional District has been a rugged battlefield for the Democrats. Recently they have voted democratic for president but republican for Congress.
The district runs from Glenview to Waukegan. Voters here are wealthier than the national average and more have college degrees. Voters also skew slightly older.
As a result, social security is a prominent issue, separating the candidates.
"He initially argued for privatizing,” said Seals of Dold. "My view is that it’s not yet in crisis. It’s solvent through 2037 and so we only need modest changes."
Seals favors means testing for those who are in the highest income brackets.
"There is a looming problem. My opponent wants to put his head in the sand and not address it," said Dold. "If we don’t address it now it will swallow up the entire budget."
The race is considered a toss up, which may be why both are running straight to the center, politically.
"I’m a moderate, a fiscal conservative and a social moderate," says Dold, saying of his opponent: "He’s about as far left on the liberal side as you can get."
To which Seals replies: "All I can look at is what his own campaign has said and the folks who backed him…the Tea Party has backed him."