10th District ballot will look familiar to voters
If the rematch for Congress in the northern suburbs' 10th District sounds unusual to voters, they don't have to look far to find a similar example.
Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth is trying to return to Congress after losing the seat to Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield two years ago.
Not far away, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville pulled off a return trip to Washington, D.C., when he won a congressional seat two years after losing one.
Like Schneider, Foster first went to Congress by winning a seat long held by Republicans. After his loss in 2010, Foster moved from Geneva to Naperville and into a newly drawn 11th District that was more suited to a Democratic victory. He won in 2012 in the district, which includes parts of southern DuPage, eastern Kane and central Will counties.
Dold, though, doesn't get the advantage of a new district with friendlier demographics. Schneider and Dold will do battle in the same district they both ran for in 2012, and watchers of Congress across the country say they're looking at the rematch as a top national race. The 10th District includes much of Lake County and part of northern Cook County.
Like Foster's challenge to Republican Judy Biggert in 2012, the 10th District race pits a member of Congress with a recent member of Congress, giving voters the unique chance to compare their two voting records directly.
"My one term against Brad's one term," Dold said.
Not surprisingly, both sides like their chances in the Nov. 4 rematch. Neither has a challenger in the upcoming primary.
Local Democratic leader Lauren Beth Gash of Highland Park says Schneider has the benefit of being an incumbent, which could help ease the campaign cash advantage Dold enjoyed in 2012.
Through September, Dold had about $820,000 in the bank compared to Schneider's $770,000.
Dold "is running against a sitting congressman, where he was not last term," Gash said.
Mark Shaw, the local member of the Republican State Central Committee, argued that without President Barack Obama's coattails in this year's election, 10th District voters will revert to their previous history of choosing Republicans like former Reps. John Porter and Mark Kirk -- a history that goes back to 1979.
"The 10th District has been a Republican seat for decades," Shaw said.
Northern Illinois University political scientist Matt Streb said rematch races aren't particularly rare -- another contentious rematch for Congress is brewing in northwestern Illinois -- but they have some common traits.
First, the previous election was close enough to give the loser some hope of winning a rematch. In the 10th District, Schneider beat Dold by about a percentage point.
Also, Streb said, candidates in rematch races tend to be closer to the middle of the political spectrum in districts that like independence.
"You see it in close races that are in swing-type districts," he said.
Streb said voters shouldn't necessarily expect the same election just because a race has the same two candidates. A lot of factors can nudge either candidate up or down.
"It's just a different political climate," he said.