Five Democrats are running for Congress in the suburban 10th District, but two of them have been grabbing most of the attention in the race.
Deerfield management consultant Brad Schneider has picked up endorsements from two daily newspapers and from some high-profile party members, including state Sen. Susan Garrett, U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and ex-Congresswoman Melissa Bean.
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He's also had enough campaign cash to put two commercials on cable TV and to flood the district with campaign literature.
Waukegan activist Ilya Sheyman entered the final weeks of the race leading the candidates in fundraising. Sheyman also has taken his message to cable TV and has scored endorsements from groups and politicians including MoveOn.org, the Illinois Federation of Teachers and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
Air Force Reserve Col. John Tree of Long Grove and Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda also are on the ballot, but neither has gained as much political traction as Sheyman and Schneider.
A fifth Democrat, Aloys Rutagwibira of Hainesville, was kicked off the ballot and is running a write-in campaign. He refused to participate in interviews.
The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Republican incumbent Robert Dold, who was elected to the House in 2010. Dold, of Kenilworth, is unopposed in the GOP primary.
In interviews and at forums, the four candidates on the ballot have painted themselves as liberals who strongly favor abortion rights, oppose concealed-carry gun laws and support same-sex marriage.
But they have tried to establish differences, too.
Bavda has promoted his experience as a teacher and proclaimed improving the nation's education system to be one of his top priorities.
Bavda also wants to break up banks that were considered too big to be allowed to fail during the recent financial-industry crisis, and he favors creating jobs with a Chicago-based road construction program.
Tree got into the race because he was angry about the direction the Tea Party is leading the country. He called the group "dysfunctional" and joked that if Ronald Reagan was alive today, the Tea Party would dub him a Democrat.
Tree said his military experience gives him the credentials to call for defense-spending cuts while maintaining a strong military. He also predicted nations will go to war 25 years from now over water, not oil.
Sheyman talked a lot about his heritage on the campaign trail. He's Jewish, and his family fled from Russia to the United States when he was a child to escape persecution.
A professional activist and community organizer, Sheyman is the strongest supporter of the Occupy Movement among the candidates.
He said he supports a federal jobs bill, proposed eliminating a cap on Social Security taxes and opposes any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security.
Sheyman also was the first candidate in the race to go negative, attacking Schneider for donations he made to a handful of Republican candidates' campaigns over the past decade. Sheyman raised the issue at forums, in televised discussions and in political fliers, suggesting Democrats can trust him more than Schneider.
Sheyman's supporters -- including MoveOn.org -- got into the act, too, creating a website and mailers that call Schneider a Republican for making those donations. Neither Sheyman nor his campaign staff members disavowed those accusations, saying they don't coordinate with independent supporters and can't control their actions.
Of all the candidates, Schneider spoke the most about the need for collaboration and compromise on Capitol Hill.
When it comes to the economy, he supports a jobs program that involves private companies, and he called for increased manufacturing in the U.S.
Schneider also suggested increasing the annual cap on Social Security contributions and establishing an estate-tax credit for deferring Social Security payments as a way to help keep the program solvent.
As for Sheyman's allegations about the donations to Republicans, Schneider said he wrote the checks because of the lawmakers' strong support of Israel.
Schneider is Jewish and he has worked for Jewish groups.
Schneider also has said he gave much more money to many more Democrats over the years, and that's backed up by federal campaign reports that show dozens of donations to Democratic politicians including Bean, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Bill Foster, Tammy Duckworth, Jan Schakowsky, Rahm Emanuel and Richard Durbin.
Redrawn after the last U.S. Census, the 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.