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Heated race between Dold, Schneider draws millions in PAC money

by Justin Voccola
Oct 18, 2012


Justin Voccola/ MEDILL

U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) is involved in a tight race with businessman Brad Schneider to represent the 10th Congressional District. 

The hotly competitive race in the 10th Congressional District is drawing national interest and big dollars.

The flood of televised attack ads show how important both parties view the contest between U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) and his Democratic challenger, Deerfield businessman Brad Schneider.

As the rhetoric has heated up, the gap between the two has started to widen. In a poll by independent polling organization We Ask America on Oct. 28, Dold was leading Schneider 53.6 – 46.4 percent with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent. A previous survey by the independent polling organization on Oct. 9 had shown a closer race, with Dold edging Schneider 47.3 to 45.4 percent.

The influx of money to the campaign indicates that both parties view Dold as vulnerable. Haley Morris, Midwest press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign, attributed that to what she called the incumbent’s links to the Tea Party.

“Congressman Robert Dold caved to extreme Tea Party cuts that gutted everything from environmental protections to Pell Grants and now wishes he had a do-over,” said Morris.

Dold’s campaign denies ties to the Tea Party or extremist positions.

"Congressman Dold has been recognized by Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Post, and others as one of the most independent-minded members of Congress,” said John McGovern, Dold’s campaign spokesman., an independent public database monitoring congressional voting records, characterizes Dold as a centrist Republican.

Total outside spending by political action committees in the campaign topped $6.3 million, as of Oct. 17, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent campaign watchdog organization.

Most of that money has been spent on attack ads. Since the beginning of the campaign, $3.3 million in PAC money has gone to advertising opposing Schneider and $1.5 million to oppose Dold. Those expenditures dwarf the $1.6 million of PAC money spent supporting Dold, and the tiny $2,200 spent to support Schneider.

Separate from the direct PAC expenditures on advertising, the candidates have amassed their own campaign coffers. Dold’s campaign raised $4.2 million compared with Schneider’s $2.6 million as of Oct. 17, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That included PAC contributions to Dold’s campaign of $1.26, about 30 percent of his total war chest. PACs gave Schneider $350,969, amounting to 13 percent of his campaign budget.

Schneider has contributed $150,000 of his own money to his campaign. Dold hasn’t put any of his own money into the contest.

Dold’s large campaign fund gives him a spending cushion as the campaign enters the final stretch. He had spent $2.7 million as of Oct. 17. Schneider had spent $2.5 million, nearly exhausting what he had on hand by that date, according to the Center for Responsive Politics data.

Both campaigns declined comment about raising additional money and spending prior to the election.