Congressional Candidates Rush to Claim Front Runner Status
As Tree enters race, Schneider and Sheyman both say they are favorite for Democratic nomination to challenge Dold.
The day after Long Grove businessman John Tree officially joined the Democratic primary field to challenge Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth), Brad Schneider and Ilya Sheyman claimed front runner status.
In addition to Schneider, a Deerfield management consultant, Sheyman, a community organizer from Waukegan and Tree, a United States Air Force Reserve colonel as well as a business owner, Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda is seeking his party’s nod.
Tree became the fourth Democratic candidate to enter the March 20, 2012 primary Thursday when he released his initial message in a video after media outlets, including Patch, broke the story Nov. 9.
Tree believes his background as a small business owner, a former corporate executive and a seven-year stint as an officer in the Air Force makes him the best candidate to defeat Dold for the 10th Congressional District seat.
“When you look at the total candidate, I am the right individual to go to Washington and represent this district,” Tree said. “I will be able to work with Republicans to get us out of the mess we’re in.”
Sheyman Calls Tree Establishment Candidate
Sheyman believes Tree is the candidate of the political establishment, which is trying to derail his campaign as he has become the self described front runner in the race. He said some forces in the Democratic Party are worried about his commitment to the middle class rather than the power structure.
“We have built a grass roots campaign with over 350 volunteers and 10,000 donors,” Sheyman said. “They (the establishment) are trying to stop our momentum because we are making them feel uncomfortable. We are the ones standing up for the middle class.”
This week Sheyman was endorsed by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago). Earlier, Sheyman earned the backing of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago) as well as the two chairs of the Democrats’ progressive caucus, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Hoyer, Schwartz Back Schneider
Schneider is not without his bevy of endorsements. He said he has been endorsed by Congressional Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), the recruitment chair for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He, too, considers himself the front runner.
Like Tree, Schneider considers his widespread exposure to the business world one of his biggest pluses. Schneider also touts his ties to the 10th District as one of his strengths.
“My experience for nearly 30 years with Fortune 500 companies and small businesses makes me the perfect candidate to address the issues of the people of the 10th District and the front runner,” Schneider said. “I’ve lived here since 1990 and know what’s important to the people.”
Tree’s motivation to become a member of Congress sprang from his anger when he said he felt members of the Tea Party were threatening the country’s economic stability.
“Last summer I was working at the Pentagon when the debt ceiling debate was going on,” Tree said. “The Tea Party was holding their own party (the Republicans) hostage and threatening to shut the country down.”
Tree Criticizes Dold
That experience motivated Tree to serve the country as a representative in Congress as well as a colonel in the Air Force reserve. Though he admits to living a block outside the 10th District, he chose to challenge Dold rather than admitted Tea Party member Rep. Joe Walsh (R-McHenry).
“Dold had a chance to stand up and show leadership,” Tree said of the Kenilworth congressman’s stance during the debt ceiling debate. “He could have broken with his party and supported a bipartisan deal. He did not show the courage.”
Tree’s comments surprised Moraine Township Republican Chairman Lou Atsaves of Lake Forest.
Atsaves explained Dold was one of 40 Republicans and 100 members of Congress to recently sign a letter asking the Congressional Super Committee, charged with reducing the federal deficit an additional $1.3 trillion, to consider all methods possible including increased revenue.
“I deal with a lot of Tea Party people both as Moraine Township chair and with the Lake County Republicans. The Tea Party is not comfortable with Dold,” Atsaves said. “They were upset when he signed it (the bipartisan letter)."
The newly drawn 10th District has a slightly more Democratic bent than the old. According to Sheyman, the 10th District is the most Democratic seat still held by a Republican.