Republican congressional candidate Robert Dold is under fire for comments his campaign reportedly made to a tea party group preparing a voters' guide.
The guide, compiled by the Northern Illinois Patriots and published last month in The Conservative Magazine of Illinois, said Dold's campaign "asks that he not be rated highly by our voter guide (indicating that he wishes to be viewed as a moderate)." The parenthetical comments were included in the guide.
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In a public debate in Glenview last Wednesday, Democrat Dan Seals criticized Dold for the entry, while the Republican said he knew nothing about it.
During a meeting with Daily Herald editors and reporters on Friday, Dold acknowledged someone with his campaign told the group he is a moderate, but he denied asking for a low ranking.
The campaign representative later was identified as campaign manager Kelley Folino. On Monday, Patriots member Joan Seifert, who spoke with Folino about the guide, confirmed Folino didn't want Dold to be rated highly by the group.
"They wanted to be sure he wasn't perceived as a conservative, and I was more than happy to oblige that," said Seifert, of Grayslake.
The group would've given him the same rating - three stars out of a possible five - whether Folino had made the request or not, Seifert said.
"He's a 3 any way you slice it," she said.
The group's director, Lake Villa resident Tony Raymond, admitted no one in the Dold campaign specifically said he wants to be "viewed as a moderate," as stated parenthetically in the voter's guide.
"That's our interpretation of why he wished not to be ranked highly," Raymond said.
Even so, Seals spokeswoman Aviva Gibbs reacted strongly to Monday's revelations.
"If Dold was truly the moderate he claims to be, he wouldn't have to request a low rating from the tea party, he would simply earn one," Gibbs said in an e-mail. "If you have to ask, you're hiding something."
Dold said the Seals campaign's attack on his integrity is simply an effort to get the Republican campaign to "take our eye off the ball."
Folino could not be reached for comment.
Dold and Seals are seeking the 10th District post now held by Republican Mark Kirk of Highland Park. Kirk is running for U.S. Senate, leaving the House seat open.
Voters in the 10th District, which includes parts of Cook and Lake counties, are noted independents, supporting Republicans in some races and Democrats in others.
Dold, a businessman from Kenilworth making his first bid for public office, has tried to paint himself as a fiscal conservative and social moderate.
Seals, a consultant and university lecturer from Wilmette who's making his third run for the 10th District seat, has criticized Dold's stance on social issues such as abortion, saying the Republican is more conservative than he lets on publicly.
Conversely, Dold and GOP leaders have tried to portray Seals as being more liberal than he publicly admits.
The Northern Illinois Patriots voters' guide gives Seals one star, the lowest rating. "Endorsed by Joe Biden," is the only text for Seals' entry.