Trump victory dampens Brad Schneider's election celebration
As Democratic Congressman-elect Brad Schneider shook hands with Metra riders at a Deerfield train station Wednesday morning, the shocking reality of Republican Donald Trump's presidential victory hung like a dark cloud over what should have been a celebratory event.
"How are you going to manage?" one commuter asked Schneider, who strongly supported Hillary Clinton's failed presidential bid.
Schneider's answer was brief -- and pragmatic.
"A day at a time," he said.
Schneider, of Deerfield, defeated incumbent Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth to reclaim Illinois' 10th Congressional District seat. Schneider held the post from 2013 to 2015, and despite the Trump win, he is excited to head back to Washington and represent the people of the 10th District, which includes parts of Cook and Lake counties.
Schneider cited reducing gun violence and immigration reform as his top issues.
He realizes he will face opposition on both issues from the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House. But he was optimistic lawmakers can find solutions for these and other pressing concerns.
"We need to begin by coming together and finding a path to address the issues we face as a country," Schneider said. "It'll be a different path (than many people expected), but I think working together we can find a path."
Dold declined an interview request Wednesday.
Schneider credited early voters for driving him to victory Tuesday. Although Dold led when it came to votes cast on Election Day, people who voted early favored Schneider by an overwhelming margin, unofficial results showed.
That difference became clear late Tuesday when the vote totals on the Lake County clerk's website were updated to include early votes.
Votes cast early in Cook County were tabulated precinct by precinct with Election Day votes.
"We believed we had about a 15,000-vote advantage coming into yesterday," Schneider said. "We were confident throughout the night and obviously very pleased when that early vote did come in."
A highlight of Election Night came when Schneider's oldest son, Adam, an ensign serving aboard the USS Michael Murphy in the Pacific Ocean, called from the destroyer to congratulate him on the victory.
"He had just come off watch," Schneider said. "That was the emotional moment for me, talking to him."
And yet, that high note was overshadowed by Trump's presidential victory, which gives the GOP control of the Oval Office and both houses of Congress.
That political reality will make it hard for a Democratic congressman to successfully push an agenda. And a key tenet of Schneider's election platform was immigration reform, specifically a path to citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally.
Trump has vehemently opposed such a proposal. Schenider remained resolute Wednesday.
"I know as a nation we are stronger because of our immigrant tradition," Schneider said. "That doesn't change. What changes is the path to get there."
Before leaving the Deerfield train platform Wednesday morning, Schneider was greeted by a commuter who said he voted for the candidate in each of the last three elections.
"I hope you'll get a fourth," Schneider said.