Months after third defeat, Seals says he isn't running for Congress in 2012
After three unsuccessful bids for Congress, Dan Seals finally is stepping off the campaign trail.
"I'm not making any plans to run in 2012," the Wilmette Democrat told the Daily Herald on Wednesday. "I'm still passionate about public service, but I think there are multiple ways to do it."
Seals' comments followed questions about his most recent federal financial disclosure form, which indicated he hasn't done much fundraising since losing the race for the 10th District seat to Republican Robert Dold in November.
Seals only collected about $4,639 in campaign donations between Nov. 23 and Dec. 31, the period covered by a year-end report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
His campaign committee refunded $6,684 to former donors and ended the period with a negative balance, down about $4,615.
In contrast, Dold collected $30,319 during the same 38-day period and had $80,207 saved at the end of the year.
Seals has been out of the public eye since losing to Dold.
That invisibility and the lack of fundraising are signs he's done running for office, said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
"If you drop off the face of the earth, it's really hard to build that back up," Redfield said. "It seems very unlikely that people (who fund political campaigns) are going to find him an attractive candidate."
Federal political candidates must regularly file financial disclosure forms with the FEC. They detail donations received, purchases made, loans and other financial transactions.
The most recent reports were submitted at the end of January.
Seals lost relatively close races to incumbent Republican Mark Kirk in 2006 and 2008. He narrowly lost to Dold in 2010 after Kirk decided to run for the U.S. Senate.
Seals said he's recently been working as a consultant to a health care group aiming to reduce patient costs. There are other ways to serve the public, he said.
"It's no longer just through Congress," Seals said.
His comments came with a caveat, however. Although he isn't planning to run again, Seals said he's "certainly not closing that door to the future."
But Seals' latest FEC report doesn't look like the financial record of a man gearing up for a multimillion-dollar congressional campaign.
During the last five weeks of 2010, Seals received only one donation of more than $1,000, his FEC report indicates. That was a $1,069 check from a Wadsworth organization called Hatco LLC.
Seals reported receiving several smaller donations, including: $325 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $500 from Wilmette resident Kevin B. Smith, the chief executive of a solar energy company called SolarReserve.
Seals' lack of fundraising energy indicates he's accepted "that his time has probably come and gone," Redfield said.
Dold's FEC report paints a picture of a very active campaign committee.
The rookie lawmaker from Kenilworth received big checks from political action committees representing a variety of industries, as well as some from private donors. Among his backers were political action committees for:
• Employees at Abbott Laboratories, $5,000.
• Cable TV giant Comcast, $2,500.
• United Airlines, $1,000.
• Walmart, $1,000.
• Lake Forest-based drug company Hospira, $2,500.
• Amgen, a California biotechnology company, $2,000.
Dold also received $11,900 from a fund for Illinois House Republican Freshmen, some of which was specifically earmarked to reduce the campaign's debt.
Many of the other donations Team Dold received were supposed to pay down the debt, too, the FEC report indicated.
"Winning an election requires certain preparation costs before the congressional schedule even begins," Dold spokeswoman Danielle Hagen said. "Congressman Dold has been actively working toward paying off final bills and is on his way toward building funds for the 2012 election."
Overall, Dold's campaign ended the year owing about $143,609 to vendors and a few employees.
Seals reported no year-end debts.
The 10th District includes parks of Cook and Lake counties. It stretches from Lake Michigan into the North and Northwest suburbs.