Republican Congressman Bob Dold failed to fend off a challenge from Democrat Brad Schneider in a battle they’ve waged before, conceding defeat late Tuesday night.
Dold held a slight lead most of the evening over Schneider, but once the last precincts were counted, Schneider bested him 52 percent to 48 percent in an effort to “take back the 10th.”
“Since 2010 we have been a refuge for thoughtful, independent leadership in a stormy political era defined by hyperpartisanship, one that seemingly celebrates antagonizing others instead of working to find common ground,” Dold, the incumbent, told supporters shortly after 11 p.m. “I never thought that this was best for our country or our community. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short today.”
A room that had been confident about early returns was stunned when Schneider showed up to declare victory on the same televisions that had put him behind Dold all night. Dozens stared open-mouthed as Dold abruptly came out with his family to concede.
Schneider called his victory a bright spot “in an otherwise dark evening, but it makes this victory all that more important, because you all are sending to Washington a voice, a fighter who’s going to stand strong and fight for the values and the priorities we all hold dear.”
“I said when I first served in office that there was no greater responsibility or higher honor than representing the 10th district. That responsibility takes on even greater meaning tonight,” he said as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was leading Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“We have to make sure that we continue to fight for things that truly do make our country great,” he continued, riffing on Trump’s “Make America Great” slogan, “a country where every American is welcome and part of our future.
It’s the third election in a row that the moderate candidates have faced off against each other to represent Illinois’ far north suburban district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dold, 47, currently holds the seat. Schneider, 55, defeated Dold in 2012.
About 200 supporters packed Austin’s Fuel Room in Libertyville for a steady mix of Bud Light and classic rock at Dold’s election night party.
The optimism in the room was met with tempered cheers when early returns shown on television had Schneider narrowing his deficit to 2 percentage points, but chants of “Sold on Dold” rang out as he maintained his lead at 10:15 p.m.
Illinois swiftly was called for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, a Chicago native raised in Park Ridge. And the state’s leanings for the top of the ticket may have hampered Dold’s chances.
Dold, of Kenilworth, was counting on his voters to split the ticket. He could hardly distance himself farther from the top of his ticket, denouncing Donald Trump early on and promising to write-in a mystery name for president.
Schneider, of Deerfield, instead tied himself tightly to his party, cutting ads for “Brad Schneider and the Democrats” voiced by President Barack Obama and popular first lady Michelle Obama. Photos from his campaign party showed life-size cardboard cutouts of the Obamas and Clinton.
Nationally, the Democrats were eager to take advantage of Republicans fleeing from Trump to flip the seat back to Schneider, whose fundraising has lagged Dold’s.
Both men, who are married fathers, emphasized that voters could uniquely consider their records while in Congress.
The relatively wealthy district stretching as far north as the Wisconsin border and as far west as Fox Lake, encompasses Northbrook, Lake Forest and Highland Park but also lower-income North Chicago and Waukegan.