Illinois’s 10th Congressional District came up for grabs this year when incumbent Rep. Mark Steven Kirk decided to pursue the Republican nomination for President Obama’s former Senate seat, rather than seek re-election to his seat in the House. Democrat Dan Seals has a chance to break the Republican party’s streak in the district and win this seat on his third attempt to join the House. Republican Robert Dold is giving him a run for his money, however, and the seat remains essentially a toss-up.
Candidates for Illinois’s 10th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes parts of Cook and Lake counties and the northern Chicago suburbs of Highland Park, North Chicago, Northbrook and Waukegan. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Robert Dold
Political experience: Dold has worked as investigative counsel for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee and interned for former Vice President Dan Quayle.
Professional experience: An attorney, Dold currently operates Rose Pest Solutions.
Key issues: According to his website, Dold sees job creation and retention as one of the biggest issues in this election, as Illinois’ unemployment rate is even higher than the national average. (It was 10.1 percent in Illinois and 9.6 nationwide in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.) He supports the permanent extension of the tax cuts implemented by President Bush and also wants to lower corporate taxes across the board. He proposes to cut health care costs by amending portions of the federal health care bill to cap what he refers to as “defensive medicine” — the practice of doing more tests than necessary to reduce the risk of lawsuit, which he believes skyrockets the cost of health care.
Endorsements: Dold is endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Electrical Contractor’s Association, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and incumbent Representative Mark Kirk, among others.
Chances of winning the seat: According to CQ Politics and just about every other polling group, this race is a complete toss-up, with neither candidate showing a significant enough lead at this point. The district leans slightly Democrat, so even though he identifies himself as a moderate, Dold may have a disadvantage because of it. As of Sept. 21, though, it’s considered too close to call, so Dold is going to have to put in extra effort to take the lead.
Candidate: Dan Seals
Political experience: Seals served as an aide to the assistant secretary of the Department of Commerce, an economics fellow in the Senate and on the Council of Global Affairs task force.
Professional experience: Seals is a former high-school teacher who has also worked for Sprint and GE Capital. He is currently an independent business consultant.
Key issues: According to his website, Seals also sees job creation and retention as the key issue in this election, and supports measures to make small-business loans easier to receive and start-up costs less daunting. He wants to invest in green energies and green jobs. Seals also believes that measures need to be undertaken to protect Social Security and health care benefits for seniors today and in the future, and proposes the government be allowed to use its negotiating power to secure better pricing.
Endorsements: Seals is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, UAW and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, among others.
Chances of winning the seat: Seals has a slight advantage in that this district voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the 2008 presidential election, but he’s attempted this race twice before and lost to the incumbent Republican Mark Kirk both times. With Kirk out of the way, he may fare better against Dold, but CQ Politics and other polling bodies put this race at a dead heat, so even though he has some strong endorsements, Seals is going to have to step it up a notch to come out on top.
Key Differences between Dan Seals and Robert Dold
Jobs: Dold would like to lower corporate taxes across the board to encourage businesses to stay in Illinois and new businesses to put down roots there. Seals would like to make it easier for small businesses and start-ups to get loans for job creation and does not support lowering corporate taxes as a general rule.
Health Care: Dold believes that the health care reform passed by the federal government will cost jobs and ultimately lower the quality of care received by millions. He wants to see reform in the way doctors perform tests and procedures and increase competition across state lines to lower health care costs. Seals believes that only a public option for health care will be able to meet the needs of all Americans effectively. He wants to see increases in the use of preventative care and more coordinated care for the chronically ill to increase effectiveness and lower costs.
Education: Dold wants to put educational responsibility in the hands of local leaders, believing that they best know the needs of their schools. He wants to reform teacher assessments and evaluate them and the schools on student improvement over time. He also supports the Student Teacher Safety Act, which would allow an educator to search a student on public grounds based on reasonable suspicion. Seals wants to make the Head Start program universally available and reform No Child Left Behind, increasing funding for both. He also wants to institute reforms to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to narrow the gap for special-needs students. He wants to see an emphasis on positive reinforcement by student and teacher assessments, believing that punishing them for failure has the opposite of the desired effect.
Foreign policy on Israel: This is a big issue in this district, as it has a large Jewish population. Dold describes himself as strongly pro-Israel, and maintains that the U.S. owes Israel a public affirmation of its support. He wants to see the U.S. focus its attention on preventing Iran from expanding nuclear capabilities to keep Israel secure in the Middle East. Seals also takes a strongly pro-Israel stance, focusing on the Middle East peace process and economic sanctions against Iran and other perceived threats to Israeli safety. He proposes to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem to illustrate that the U.S. believes the city to be Israel’s undisputed capital.
Illinois’s 10th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Illinois 10th District is made up of the northern suburbs of Chicago, near the Wisconsin border. It includes the cities of Highland Park, North Chicago, Northbrook and Waukegan.
2008 results: Kirk bested Seals 67.1 percent to 30.2 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 71.4 percent of the district is white, 15.1 percent Hispanic, 7.5 percent Asian and 4.5 percent black.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Illinois 10th District a rating of D+6, giving Democratic contenders an advantage over Republicans in this district.