A Libertyville Republican running for Illinois' 10th Congressional District seat has promised to serve no more than three terms -- six years -- if elected in November.
Dr. Sapan Shah said Congress isn't as effective as it should be because "people are there just way too long."
Shah's two rivals for the GOP nomination, Jeremy Wynes and Doug Bennett, also believe Congress isn't getting the job done properly. But they don't think term limits -- whether self-imposed or mandated by legislation -- are the solution.
Wynes was particularly critical.
"The six-year term limit is a fantasy," said Wynes, of Highland Park. "You cannot represent your district well if everybody in Washington knows you're going to go home in a couple years."
Bennett said voters already have the power to limit a politician's service -- at election time. And in the 10th District, which now is represented by Deerfield Democrat Brad Schneider and hasn't seen a lawmaker serve two consecutive terms since 2010, voters have been particularly "brutal" when it comes to ousting congressmen who fall out of favor, Bennett said.
"And we hope they are again brutal in enforcing term limits with Brad," said Bennett, also of Deerfield.
Shah, Wynes and Bennett will face off in the March 20 GOP primary.
The winner will face Schneider in the November general election.
The three Republicans discussed term limits and other issues last week with representatives of the Daily Herald editorial board.
Term limits are a tenet of Shah's campaign. He's pledged to champion federal legislation mandating term limits, and he maintained that stance last week.
"I don't believe that Congress should be filled with career, entrenched politicians," Shah said. "That's why I'm running."
Shah, the senior vice president of a health care company, said he'd prefer to see Congress populated by people who have experience "doing all kinds of innovative, wonderful things outside of government."
"Effective people from the private sector are going to be effective when they go to Congress," Shah said.
Bennett, a computer consultant, said term limits haven't been a big issue in the district.
The last 10th District representative to serve at least two consecutive terms was Republican Mark Kirk, who held the post for five terms, from 2001 to 2011.
Kirk was succeeded for one term by Republican Bob Dold, who then lost the seat to Schneider in 2012. Dold reclaimed the post in 2014 but again lost to Schneider in 2016.
Bennett expressed concern that term limits would shift power in Washington, D.C., from elected officials to bureaucrats and "entrenched lobbyists who stay there forever."
"I'd rather have lobbyists be term-limited ... and some of the bureaucrats who have been there 30 or 40 years," he said.
Wynes, the former Midwest director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, slammed Shah for making term limits a major plank of his campaign "when it has zero chance of being enacted."
Wynes said term limits would turn new lawmakers into powerless lame ducks in just a few years.
Additionally, he said the problems in Washington are much deeper than congressmen who have served too long.
"In fact, we've actually had tremendous turnover the last few election cycles in Congress," Wynes said. "The problem is more that the districts (lawmakers) are coming from aren't competitive like this one."
Lack of competition on the ballot encourages candidates to run to political extremes, Wynes said, and then those party hard-liners are empowered in Washington.
The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.