On Monday, February 27, early voting started for Illinois’ March 20 primary elections. As we’ve reported previously, we have a great opportunity to elect a strongly progressive Democrat to Congress from Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, where Ilya Sheyman is running to be the Democrat nominee to replace freshman Tea Party Rep. Robert Dold.
Unfortunately, another candidate in the Democratic primary, Brad Schneider, is pretending to be the progressive in the race. Winning Progressive has no doubt that Schneider would be far better than Rep. Dold, and we will certainly support Schneider in the general election if he were to win the nomination. But it is quite a stretch to call Schneider a progressive, especially when a true progressive like Sheyman is in the race.
First, Schneider has the problem that he, on a number of occasions, made campaign contributions to Republicans. For example, in the 2010 and 2008 election cycles, Schneider donated a combined $1,800 to Mark Kirk (R-IL), $250 to Robert Bennett (R-UT), and $250 to Mike Johanns (R-KS). Between 1999 and 2006, Schneider made four more contributions totaling $1,500 to Mark Kirk, $1,000 to Mike Rogers (R-MI), and $1,000 to Mark Kennedy (R-MN). While Schneider also made numerous donations to a range of moderate to progressive Democrats, $5,800 of donations to Republicans is not the record of a true-blue progressive.
Second, Schneider’s Facebook page notes that he is “very proud to announce the endorsement of the New Democrat Coalition.” As Roll Call recently described, the endorsement was part of the Coalition’s effort to “become the go-to group for moderates next year.” Such endorsements go to “moderate, pro-business” Democrats, and are accompanied by a $10,000 donation from the Coalition’s PAC, which is chaired by conservative Democrat Jason Altmire (D-PA). Schneider’s other political endorsements include moderate Steny Hoyer (D-MD), various local Illinois officials, and a handful of unions. By contrast, Sheyman’s supporters include the Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), Democracy for America, Americans for Democratic Action, MoveOn.Org, former Illinois State Senator and dean of progressive politics in the state Miguel Del Valle, Howard Dean, AFSCME Local 31, the Lake County Federation of Teachers, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 73.
On the issues, Schneider mostly states support for progressive positions. One key area where Schneider and Sheyman differ, however, is that only Sheyman supports gradually developing a Medicare-for-all, single payer type health insurance system because quality, affordable health care should be the “birthright of every single American.” By contrast, Schneider specifically stated in his response to a candidate questionnaire from the Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) that he does not support single payer or extending Medicare and would prefer to focus on insurance market reforms and reducing costs.
Again, none of this is to disparage Schneider or to suggest that moderate to conservative Democrats such as himself should not have a place in the party. But Illinois’ 10th is the type of Congressional District that a truly progressive Democrat can and should win, and Ilya Sheyman is the progressive candidate to do so.
If you’d like to help make sure that we have a truly progressive Democratic candidate in Illinois’ 10th, please:
* make sure you vote early by March 15th, or on election day (March 20th), if you live in the District
* Contribute to the campaign to help finance the grassroots efforts and air the following commercial for Sheyman’s campaign: