Democrat Brad Schneider ready to ‘roll up my sleeves’ after winning GOP House seat
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 7, 2012 9:24PM
Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from the 10th district Brad Schneider works a phone bank in Grayslake, Illinois as he and volunteers campaign Sunday November 4, 2012. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:53PM
Who is the Democrat who unseated the Republicans from their 10th Congressional District stronghold of some 30 years?
“I’m not different from most of the people in this district,” says Brad Schneider, the 51-year-old businessman from Deerfield who bested freshman U.S. Rep. Bob Dold of Kenilworth in an upset Tuesday.
“I’m feeling great,” the first-time candidate said a day after he narrowly won one of the most hotly contested and costly congressional races nationwide. “I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work on the challenges we face.”
Schneider, who ran a campaign criticizing Republicans for obstructing movement by Congress on any number of major issues facing the nation, tapped into Dold’s vulnerability in the remapped north suburban district that, once mostly Republican, is now Democratic leaning.
“I think the message in general this election was frustration throughout the country with gridlock in Washington, that voters want to have people who are going to work together to get things done,” says the self-proclaimed progressive regarded as a moderate.
In his campaign, Schneider promoted views standing with President Barack Obama on critical issues such as health care, immigration reform, women’s rights and the environment. Former President Bill Clinton made robo calls on his behalf.
But Schneider won’t point to any particular factor as key to his victory in this economically diverse district that sprawls across parts of northern Cook and Lake counties, from Lake Michigan to Fox Lake.
Its demographics are in part 18 percent Hispanic, 10 percent Asian and 6 percent African-American.
“No one thing was sufficient,” he says. “It was a close race, and everything we did — from our ground game to the volunteers, the staff, the consistency and discipline in our message — every single thing, was necessary in order to do what we did.”
So what’s first on his agenda?
“The most important thing is getting our economy going, so we can get people back to work,” he says. “I want to emphasize infrastructure. I want to emphasize manufacturing, exports — to restore a culture of innovation that allows us to invent things here and then export them around the world. I want to emphasize education, working to enhance and reinforce our STEM curriculums and get teachers the resources they need to effectively teach.”
And he has a particular affinity for helping small businesses, says Schneider, who holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, and has run Cadence Consulting Group, LLC, his management consulting firm, since 2008.
His decision not to release his tax returns — citing privacy for wife Julie — was fodder for criticism by his opponent, as were documents showing Schneider’s firm, specializing in strategic planning for family owned businesses, reported no revenues for several years.
Schneider shakes off the campaign dirt.
“I define myself as first and foremost, my priorities being my family,” says the father of two — Adam, 19, and Daniel, 18, whose soccer and baseball teams he coached for 12 years. Biking is another of his loves.
And for now, he foresees not having too much to say in the near future.
“I was raised that you have two ears and one mouth — use them in proportion. So I intend to do a lot of listening,” he says.
“I’ve gotten the success I’ve had in life by working collaboratively with others. I think that’s what will make me successful in Congress. For better or worse, I’m just a nice guy that really believes that people working together can get anything done.”