Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Is Rep. Steny Hoyer Meddling In an Illinois Democratic Primary?

For almost a year, Maryland Juice has been following the Democratic Primary battle in Illinois' 10th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by freshman GOP Rep. Robert Dold, who narrowly eked out a 2010 victory in this swing district.

Two Democrats are battling it out for the right to take on Mr. Dold, the incumbent Republican:
Ilya Sheyman: MoveOn's former National Mobilization Director, a jewish exile from the Soviet Union, and a Young Democrat.

Brad Schneider: A strategic management consultant who previously owned and managed a life insurance agency.
Many months ago, my employer Demand Progress announced support for Ilya Sheyman in the IL-10 race. It was a no-brainer for us, as we have hundreds of members in Illinois. That's why as a Marylander, I was very surprised to see Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer's name appear as practically the only endorsement for Ilya's challenger.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency recently profiled the IL-10 primary battle between Sheyman and Schneider:
The 25-year-old Sheyman has as his main primary competition a fellow Jewish Democrat, Brad Schneider, who is considered more of a centrist (though Schneider’s campaign manager also described his candidate as a “solid progressive”). The two are vying to unseat first-term Republican Rep. Robert Dold.

Politico reports: “Progressive groups view Illinois' 10th as the first true bellwether of the cycle for their cause, even though Washington Democratic operatives privately see it as a difficult district to capture.”

Sheyman has received backing from a number of members of Congress hailing from the left wing of the Democratic party, while Schneider is backed by House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Schneider has taken heat from Sheyman backer Howard Dean over past donations to Republican candidates. Schneider’s camp defended the giving as related to Israel and amounting to only a small fraction of the candidate’s donations.

Indeed, Daily Kos reports that a poll of IL-10 primary voters indicates that they want the Democratic nominee to be a progressive, not a centrist:
According to today's PPP poll, 64% of voters want a progressive, compared to a mere 25% who wanted a moderate candidate. The people of Illinois have spoken: the majority of IL-10 voters want a bold progressive like Ilya Sheyman!

So what in the world is Rep. Steny Hoyer doing in Illinois? Aha -- like Mike Miller, he is trying to find votes to retain his post as Minority Whip of the U.S. House. Well, if that door is open, Rep. Chris Van Hollen ought to get in there and stake his claim, and Rep. Donna Edwards ought to make some noise for the U.S. House Progressive Caucus. Holla!

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