Democrats spar over donations, support at congressional forum
Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that the debate was co-sponsored by a group called the Illinois Tenth Congressional District Democrats.
The Democratic hopefuls running for Congress in the 10th District took swipes at the Republican Party -- and occasionally at each other -- during a forum in Lake County on Saturday.
Seated between fellow candidates Vivek Bavda and John Tree on the dais at the Deerfield Hyatt, Ilya Sheyman and Brad Schneider exchanged the forum's few verbal barbs.
Sheyman attacked Schneider for campaign contributions he made to Republicans including Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk. Schneider responded by criticizing the policies of some of the groups that have endorsed Sheyman and by extolling the campaign work he's done for Democrats including former Rep. Melissa Bean of Barrington.
Sheyman's attack on Schneider's past political donations has surfaced at other public events and online. On Saturday, Schneider said the tactic reminded him of Bean's 2010 campaign against Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh, and he urged an end to the hostility.
"We're better than that," said Schneider, of Deerfield.
Sheyman, of Waukegan, did not respond. Veteran political journalist Dick Kay of WCPT radio, who hosted the live event, stopped the discussion for a commercial break.
The candidates will face off March 20 in the Democratic primary. A fifth Democrat, Aloys Rutagwibira of Hainesville, is running a write-in campaign and did not participate Saturday.
The winner will face first-term Republican Rep. Bob Dold in the November general election.
Aside from the exchange between Schneider and Sheyman, the candidates generally espoused the same beliefs and took the same stances on many issues and bashed the GOP's policies. They all pledged to protect women's right to have abortions, for example, and defended President Obama's recent efforts to force religious organizations to provide health care coverage for contraception.
When the discussion turned to the economy, all but Bavda specifically called for an end to the Bush-era tax cuts. Bavda, of Mundelein, said tax reform efforts should first focus on corporate tax rates, and also called for reductions in deductions and tax credits.
Tree, of Long Grove, took an interesting stand on the economy by calling for significant defense-spending cuts as a way to reduce the deficit and raise money for a federal jobs program. A colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, he said his military experience will protect him from traditional Republican attacks on Democrats who want to reduce defense spending.
"Imagine how popular I'm going to be the next time I go do my duty at the Pentagon," Tree said.
The 10th District includes parts of Lake and Cook counties. Saturday's forum was co-sponsored by the Illinois Tenth Congressional District Democrats.