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Brad Schneider's Win A Pleasant Surprise

The end of election 2012 means Highland Park residents can reclaim their phone lines and TVs from robocalls and attack ads. It also means that, for the first time in over 30 years, a Democrat will represent the 10th District.

Election 2012 is over, finally.

A collective sigh of relief let out last week as Americans reclaimed their home phone lines from robocalls and their TV viewing from attack ads. Though the national landscape has changed little, from the point of view of a Highland Park voter, much has changed.

Will the change continue into the next election cycle?

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My college minor was political science, with a focus on presidential elections. Thus I find the days approaching November each leap year to be almost-consuming, watching the twists and turns of the race to the ballot box. 
Until the very end, I wasn't ready to declare the Obama versus Romney contest to be the most disgusting campaign witnessed on the national stage. At least the outright personal attacks that plagued the Obama 2008 campaign were mostly on the sidelines, Donald Trump notwithstanding. However, from the first debate onward, the presidential election became a slugfest. The outright lies and deceptions -- a five-point plan without details, Jeeps being made in China, calling it an "apology tour" to the President's face -- reeked of desperation. 
To me, the only surprise to the national contest was the shock of the Romney camp that they lost so thoroughly. 

The election did offer a surprise here at home. The Illinois 10th District hasn't had a Democrat as representative in over 30 years, and only one Democrat -- Abner Mikva -- since 1887. Robert Dold held multiple advantages in this contest: the district's history of supporting moderate conservatives and the power of incumbency. He also had, as much as any Congressman running in 2012, a reasonably positive track record from the last two years in office.
On the other hand, Brad Schneider had won a multi-way Democratic primary contest without a majority, with no prior government service.

The odds seemed long that Schneider could beat the incumbent Dold.

The campaign, to my eyes, made that seem like an even more difficult contest. Dold's campaign came into the national contest with over $1.2 million in the bank, according to the Daily Herald, and eventually raised over $4 million, versus $2.6 million for Schneider -- still big money. Independent organizations spent even more. Dold's attack ads ran all over Chicago TV and radio for weeks before the election. They seemed to be striking on vulnerable points, such as Schneider's unwillingness to disclose his full financial and taxpaying history for the last several years.

In short, as I drove around the Illinois tenth over the last month, I was convinced -- perhaps by the out-sized Dold signs everywhere -- that Schneider wasn't going to win.

Maybe I wasn't spending enough time in Cook County, as the vote in that portion of the district put Schneider in the winning column. I was as surprised as the Dold staff and supporters.

The post-election story is that the redistricting from the 2010 census was favorable to the Democrats in the 10th. Maybe so. Perhaps it was the coattails of a geography that was more likely to vote Obama, Morrison and Drury into office. Perhaps voters simply wanted to give the Democrats in the Congress a chance to break the gridlock. Any which way, I am looking forward to Schneider's service, and hope that he does not carry the negativity of the campaign into office.

In his victory speech last week, President Obama said, "The best is yet to come." After this grueling set of contests, I hope so. I hope that in 2016, the Political Action Committees take a fundamentally different approach. Billions of dollars spent at the national, state, and district level resulted mostly in lost ground, and collective distaste across all fifty states. For years, the thought has been, "well, negative campaigning happens because it works." This year, it didn't.

Is it finally time to change the calculus of American politics?

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Ed Brill November 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I don't think it's blind partisanship. Of course you'll call them the liberal media, but every single fact checking organization - the non-partisan ones - has called that a lie. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2011/02/obamas_apology_tour.html
Dan Jenks November 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM
If you read the link you highlighted, as well as another one from Politifact which I will highlight for your readers, http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/17/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-says-barack-obama-began/, you will see that the argument for/against the apology characterization largely comes down to “Did President Obama use the word “apologize” in his statement? If not, it can’t reasonably be construed as an apology.” I think this is a faulty line of reasoning. If you look at a link within the Politifact article, to President Obama’s 2009 speech at Cairo University, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09, you will find the following quote:
Dan Jenks November 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM
“And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter or forget our principles. Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.” Paraphrasing Mr. Obama’s comments, it would be as if I said “Given what happen in my life recently, I did some things I’m not proud of, these actions don’t represent who I am and what I believe, they were wrong and I won’t being doing them again”. Purely as an academic matter, I think it is within the realm of possibility to characterize this comment as an “implicit apology.”
Jack Straw November 16, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Ed, I guess it must all be perspective. If you look at this election and only see what’s good for the Highland Park Democratic Party we don’t have much to talk about. In my opinion this was Mike Madigan greatest moment, the peak of living in the gray. I don’t know if Brad is a good guy or not, Chicago Tribune said he might not be honest, but that’s what I expect from Illinois democrats anyway. If you feel this is ethical and moral politics than we simply disagree.
dold's supporter November 19, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Chicago Tribune didn't say anything about dold being sued in state and federal courts for cheating his employees at Rose Pest, did it? Tribune didn't say nothing because it is as bankrupt morraly as financially. As for Dold......loserrrrrrrrrrrrr, it feels so good to drive around Northbrook and see your election sings...the signs if a loserrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Dold, really, why don't you sue the voters who voted against you? You unleashed 5 lawyers, (FIVE) against an ex-employee representing himself...5 hahahahhha. In all fairness...thank you Ex-Congressman Dold for the beautiful Nov 06 evening...thanks for losing, jerk.

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