Bob Dold, the 10th Cong. District Republican Party nominee, comes across as someone who is on an "even keel," all the time. The no drama Dold, so to speak. That temperament may have started with his strong but balanced academic background, which includes a Kenilworth grade school, New Trier High School, an undergraduate degree from Denison University, a law degree from Indiana University and an MBA from Northwestern University. (Common ground or more rivalry? In addition to other degrees, Dold's Democratic opponent, Seals, has an MBA from the University of Chicago; Both candidates are married, with three young kids and live within a bike ride of each other).
Dold spent some time on the Hill as an investigative counsel but never practiced law in the private sector. However, Dold has practiced in the world of business as the President of the family's pest control business, Rose Solutions, and you can bet, he knows what it means to "meet a payroll."
The Republican 10th CD Primary: why Dold won
Dold is not as familiar with campaigning as his Democratic Party opponent, Dan Seals (who, prior to this election cycle, won two primaries relatively easily and ran two tough, close, but losing general election campaigns against Cong. Mark Kirk). However, Dold caught on fast, and appeared as much at ease, if not more so, on the campaign trail as his strongest opponent, thirteen year State Rep. Beth Coulson (R-Glenview).
Dold beat Coulson 39% to 31%, with Dick Green picking up 15% and Arie Friedman, 14% of the vote, and a smattering of votes going to Paul Hamann. Dold was the best fit for the Republican Primary and we'll see if he does some running to the center as the general election unfolds. Coulson was too moderate or liberal for the Primary. Green may have had the right philosophical bent for the Primary, but not the right personality. Friedman might have been a good fit for the Republican Primary, but he started too late and couldn't raise the necessary money or build the requisite organization to be more competitive.
This journalist had pegged Dold as the frontrunner about a month or two ago. He seemed to know how to put together the inputs for a winning campaign. Dick Green, a self-funder, had more money, but Dold did okay on that score. More importantly, Dold knew how to answer questions at forums and seemed the most at ease around voters. Sounds rather basic, but many candidates simply are not at ease around voters, and don't feel comfortable asking for votes, let alone for campaign contributions.
The 10th CD is a "Democratic District."
The 10th CD has become, over recent years, a Democratic District, at least at the Presidential level. Kerry won it 53% to 47% in 2004 and Obama beat McCain easily with 61% of the vote. Yet, the Republicans have held the congressional seat for the last decade, as well as the prior twenty-one years.
Republican John Porter was the District's congressman from 1979 to 2000, when he decided to leave the House and ultimately went to a Washington law firm to practice law and lobbying, both of which he still does quite well. Mark Kirk had a bit of a tough time in the 2000 ten candidate Republican primary, until Porter endorsed him in the last month, enabling him to win comfortably over Shawn Donnelly, who sunk two million dollars into the effort. [BTW, Dold won the Primary even though Porter and Jim Edgar endorsed Coulson]. Kirk then beat Democratic State Rep. Lauren Beth Gash by less than two points, but had an easy time of it until the bottom fell out of the national Republican Party in 2006 and Kirk edged Seals out by about six points. In 2008, Seals made it slightly closer.
Fiscal Conservativism and Social Moderation have won in the 10th CD
Both Porter and Kirk prided themselves on being "Fiscal conservatives and social moderates." That seemed to work for both in terms of keeping the 10th CD in Republican Party hands. Kirk notched it up a bit as he co-opted almost all of the major constituencies of the Democrats: Kirk was and is unequivocally Pro Choice, Pro Gun Control, Pro Environment, Pro Israel, Pro Gay Rights and in the 2008 campaign, he added Pro Public School Teacher [Kirk is no fan of school vouchers]. It was Kirk's decision to seek and then win the Republican Party's nomination for the U. S. Senate that made the 10th CD into an open seat.
Cong. Kirk's rocky ride in the 10th CD during the last four years.
Cong. Mark Kirk, in his first two terms, was a strong proponent of the Bush Tax Cuts, and a strong supporter of the Iraq War. Toward the end of the 2006 race and surely by 2008, Kirk was backing away from both, without clearly reversing himself. And, ultimately, the naval reserve officer and Congressman who now describes himself as a national security hawk could not see fit to support Bush's surge in Iraq, even as he refused to accept a time line for withdrawal-- as he faced immense political pressure in the fall, 2008 campaign to go with a time line.
A nuanced Bob Dold?
The impression we get, and we are still learning about Bob Dold, is that he is more "nuanced," (to borrow a word from John Kerry) than Cong. Kirk or maybe it is just that Dold is still developing his own persona as he works out and refines his position on new and old issues. Bob Dold describes himself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate, but clearly he will differ in various ways from that umbrella description of Mark Kirk.
Bob Dold and Dan Seals: An issue contrast example
There are many clear issue differences between Republican Bob Dold and Democrat Dan Seals. November voters in the 10th CD will have a choice, not an echo. For example, Dan Seals would have said no to Obama's request for 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. Bob Dold would have given Obama the 40,000 additional troops that General McChrystal requested.
On the other hand, Dold agrees with Seals that the government in Afghanistan is corrupt. For Seals, that was one reason why he would have said no to Obama's request for more troops. But, for Dold, when asked if the United States can accomplish its objectives in Afghanistan if the government there is corrupt, Dold said, "I think we have to start marching down that path... I think we need to have benchmarks for success as opposed to timelines for withdrawal...I think we need to be working with that government to try to make sure that we are making strides towards our objectives." [Watch the "Public Affairs," show featuring Bob Dold].
Politics makes for strange bedfellows?
If you haven't noticed, this is an interesting Dold-Seals split. Dold, like Cong. Kirk did, is supporting the war. Seals, like Seals did, is opposing the war. However, this is what Obama, the Presidential candidate, called the good war, the right war to fight, the Afghanistan War. And, now that he is President, this is Barack Obama's war. So, in a sense, Seals, the Democrat is opposing his Democratic President, Barack Obama; and Dold, the Republican, is supporting President Obama. At least on that issue.
Will that unusual alignment of the candidates and the President on what once was thought to be a big issue in the 10th CD, the War, matter this fall? The 10th CD is known for its independent, sophisticated and educated voters. Indeed, Cong. Mark Kirk frequently says that his District has the most educated zip code in the country, Wilmette. Will the voters reflect their independence, education and sophistication this Fall? And, how will that cut? One thing is for sure. Public Affairs will continue to follow this race, as it unfolds.
To learn more about the issue agreements and contrasts between Dan Seals and Bob Dold, you can watch this show here or you can watch it this week on cable in the areas and at the times, listed below.
The Chicago Metro suburban episode of "Public Affairs with Jeff Berkowitz," featuring this week's guest, Bob Dold, 10th CD Republican Party Nominee, airs:
on Wed., Th., and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka..
and on Tuesday night, at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, parts of Inverness, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette, Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.
and on Tuesday night, at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.
and this Thursday night at 8:00 pm on Comcast Cable Ch. 17 in Rockford and surrounding areas. The surrounding areas reached by Comcast Cable Ch. 17, in addition to Rockford, include Byron, Cedarville, Cherry Valley, Loves Park, Machesney Park, Mount Morris, New Milford, Portions of Ogle County, Oregon, Polo, Stillman Valley, Winnebago, Portions of Boone County and Poplar Grove.
and on Monday night, Feb. 22 throughout the City of Aurora and surrounding areas at 7:30 pm on ACTV-10. The program also airs at 3:30 pm on next Tuesday (Feb. 23) and next Wed. (Feb. 24) in Aurora on ACTV-10 and surrounding areas. The Aurora station, ACTV-10, aka Aurora Community Television, Comcast Cable Ch. 10, reaches all of Aurora, Bristol, Big Rock and parts of Oswego, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Montgomery.
and on Monday night, Feb. 22 throughout the City of Chicago at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21.