Schneider releases first TV ad; challenger Ramirez Mukherjee avoiding the airwaves

With a little more than a week to go until Election Day, Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider's first TV commercial of the season has hit the airwaves.

Meanwhile, Republican challenger and first-time candidate Valerie Ramirez Mukherjee of Northbrook hasn't tried to reach 10th Congressional District voters through TV ads - and she said she has no plans to do so, despite lending her campaign more than $1 million last month.

Ramirez Mukherjee's lack of advertising puzzled elections expert Kent Redfield.

"Why do you have a person who is capable of some level of self-funding putting $1 million in her campaign fund, but not spending it yet and maybe having no intention of spending it?" asked Redfield, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "If she is not interested in running within the election framework that could make her competitive ... what is the point?"

Called "Team," Schneider's 30-second ad features the congressman riding a bicycle through the district. He's solo at first but joined by other riders along the way.

As up-tempo music plays, Schneider talks in a voice-over of the economic and emotional challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis. He promises we can get through it "if we work together."

Schneider then touts his bipartisan efforts to improve health care, protect people with preexisting medical conditions, deliver coronavirus relief for Illinois families and help small businesses.

In the closing seconds, Schneider directly addresses the camera and says he'll "always be on your team."

The spot is airing on broadcast TV and digital platforms.

In an emailed statement, Schneider said he made an upbeat ad because he's an optimist at heart.

"It hurts to see neighbors and friends suffering through this pandemic and close to losing hope," said Schneider, who is seeking a fourth term on Capitol Hill. "I believe it's important to speak to hope, to renewal and to working together, at home and in Washington."

Redfield called the ad a "perfect message" for 10th District voters, who have sent both Democrats and Republicans to Congress over the last decade.

"You cannot tell what his party is - (he's) just your congressman who feels your anxiety," Redfield said.

Additionally, the bike-riding action "fits the cultural vibe of a progressive, above-average-income district," Redfield said.

"The message is, 'He is one of us, he understands us, he cares for us,'" Redfield said.

Schneider is well funded if he plans more ads before Nov. 3. His campaign had nearly $1.9 million in the bank as of Oct. 14, his preelection federal disclosure report showed.

That's considerably more than the roughly $1.1 million Ramirez Mukherjee's campaign had as of the same date, her report showed.

And of that cash, nearly all of it - $1.01 million - was money she lent to the campaign last month.

Ramirez Mukherjee, who runs a private family investment business, said TV or radio ads are possible but indicated no plans for them.

Instead, she said she's relying on news coverage to spread her message.

Ramirez Mukherjee called the cash in her coffers "dry powder" for her to spend on her campaign or others. That's a euphemism in the financial industry for cash reserves kept to cover future obligations.

At times over the last decade, the race for the 10th District seat has been among the costliest congressional contests in the nation, with expenses rising into the millions. Ramirez Schneider criticized that kind of spending.

"If we keep electing candidates that raise and spend so much with other people's money while on the campaign trail, how would we ever expect them to be stewards when they reach Congress?" she said.

Redfield wondered if Ramirez Mukherjee really is trying to set an example "by running the kind of race that is the opposite of conventional politics."

"Given where we are in the state of politics, a little faith and idealism may not be a bad thing," he said.

The 10th District includes parts of Cook and Lake counties.

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Both candidates want to preserve, improve the Affordable Care Act

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GOP congressional hopeful Ramirez Mukherjee invested $1 million in campaign

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