Endorsement: Bob Dold goes for the smart middle ground

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Former Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill.

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The worst thing U.S. Rep. Bob Dold’s Democratic critics can say about him is that he’s a partisan conservative posing as a bipartisan centrist. We’re not sure how much that matters.

The fact remains, judging by his voting record, that Dold is one of the most bipartisan members of Congress. Whether that stems from deep conviction or a desire for self-preservation we cannot say. Certainly a more conservative Republican candidate would be toast in this north suburban district, which splits almost evenly Republican and Democrat.

What does matter is that Congress — and especially the House Republican caucus — needs more bipartisanship. We urge a vote for Dold over his Democratic challenger, Brad Schneider, who took this congressional seat from Dold in 2012 and lost it to him in 2014. This is their rubber match.

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The 10th Congressional District, which covers large parts of the North Shore and the far north suburbs, is a perfect example of why it would be excellent if gerrymandering were prohibited when legislative districts are drawn. Because the 10th District’s lines have not been drawn in a way that overwhelmingly favors one party’s candidate or the other’s, elections are not decided by ideological extremists voting in party primaries. Both Republicans and Democrats have a fighting chance in the general election, but only by appealing to a broad swath of the electorate.

Dold is generally moderate to liberal on social issues, such as guns, abortion and immigration, and pragmatic on economic and budget issues. He introduced a bill, for example, that prevents lawmakers from blocking funds to Planned Parenthood, though he also supports the Hyde Amendment that prohibits the public funding of abortions. He supports stem cell research.

Dold was the first House Republican to support the Equality Act, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He supports expanded background checks for gun purchasers and accepts that climate change is real and steps should be taken to address the issue. We wish he were more supportive of the Affordable Care Act — he rhetorically wanders all over on this one — but he says he’s “open” to fixing it rather than replacing it.

Schneider has been a by-the-numbers Democrat. On certain issues, most notably gun legislation, we like that. Though Dold supports sensible gun legislation, we wish he were bolder — a real leader — in getting it to the floor of the House for a vote.

That said, the 10th District leans strongly toward the let’s-make-a-deal middle, as does Bob Dold. Congress needs more of that.

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