Lake County's top Democrat fears negative campaigning in the 10th Congressional District primary race will hurt the party's eventual nominee when it comes time to face Republican Rep. Robert Dold in the general election.
"The incumbent might have an easy task at taking down our nominee," state Sen. Terry Link, leader of the county's Democratic Party, said in a statement released Thursday to the media. "The negative and overzealous mail campaigns, as well as uncoordinated phone banking, really (do) turn voters off."
Of the four candidates on the Democratic ballot for the post, one -- Ilya Sheyman of Waukegan -- has been doing most of the mudslinging.
At forums and in campaign ads, Sheyman has criticized fellow candidate Brad Schneider for giving money to a handful of Republican candidates over the past decade. Political groups supporting Sheyman have gone further, saying the donations make Schneider a Republican.
Schneider spent much of the campaign above the fray. He defended the donations, saying they were made because of the lawmakers' strong support of Israel.
This week, however, Schneider released a cable TV ad attacking Sheyman and his supporters, which include the activist group MoveOn.org.
The commercial calls them outside special interest groups and accuses them and Sheyman of "spreading lies."
The tactics don't sit well with Link.
"Negative campaigning is a distraction and disrespectful to those who walked in your shoes in the past, volunteers and voters," Link wrote. "A campaign is about why you are the best person for the job, not about your opponent."
Without naming him, Link also took a swipe at Sheyman for accepting support from political committees.
"To have a congressional candidate resort to outside PAC money in order to take down a fellow Democrat only serves to create disharmony within the party," he wrote.
Sheyman's campaign manager, Annie Weinberg, said federal law prevents candidates from coordinating with independent political groups.
Schneider's campaign manager, Jarrod Backous, denied his candidate's most recent ad is negative and said Team Schneider has simply been "clarifying the record."
Long Grove resident John Tree and Mundelein resident Vivek Bavda also are running in the Democratic primary.
The 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties.