Sheyman, Schneider Supporters Clash
Northfield Township party leaders urge endorsement of no candidate, enough members listen.
The Northfield Township Democratic Organization will not endorse a 10th Congressional District Democratic candidate for the March 20 primary after attacks by advocates of certain contenders left no consensus choice Saturday in Northbrook.
Supporters of Waukegan community organizer Ilya Sheyman criticized Deerfield management consultant Brad Schneider for campaign contributions to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Highland Park), while the 25-year-old Sheyman came under fire for his age.
The other two candidates who appealed to more than 150 people in the room were Long Grove business owner John Tree and Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda. Only 53 of those people had green cards to vote as organization members.
When it came time to vote, 22 people raised their hands for Sheyman, 13 for no endorsement, 12 for Long Grove business owner John Tree, six for Schneider and none for Mundelein attorney Vivek Bavda. A candidate needs 60 percent to receive the group’s backing.
All the barbs motivated state Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Northfield Township Democratic Chair Mike Kreloff to urge organization members to back no one in the primary and unite March 21 to unseat Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth).
“We tore the organization apart two years ago in a divisive primary between (former state Rep.) Julie (Hamos) and Dan (Seals),” Kreloff said. “Was there damage? Absolutely, and here we go again.”
Kreloff was referring to the 2010 Democratic primary narrowly won by Seals, who then lost a close race to Dold.
Kreloff Asks for Caution
Kreloff urged caution this time. “Now the district is more Democratic, two points more. If we are united we can win. Let’s wait and get behind the winner,” he said. “These are all good candidates.”
Doug Gerelman of Northbrook is a Tree supporter who believes Sheyman is too young, and his association with MoveOn.org would lead to his rejection by independent-minded voters in the Nov. 6 general election.
“The age of an individual does matter,” Gerelman said. “How will you answer people who are critics of MoveOn?”
Others in the room called Move.On the “tea party of the left.” They are concerned how Sheyman will connect with voters in the new parts of the district like Grayslake.
Sheyman was not afraid to answer his critics directly. “When I meet with people no one has ever said I’m too young,” he said. “Most of the (new) people (in the district) are Democrats. They agree with me on the issues.”
Nancy Goodman of Northbrook, a Sheyman backer, had her own answer. She read the names of many signers of the United States Constitution including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin citing them as supporters of Sheyman's age. The constitutional requirement for being a member of Congress is 25 years old.
Schneider took criticism from a number of questioners for donations made to Kirk between 2002 and 2008. “How can we support you if you supported Mark Kirk,” one asked?
Most of Schneider’s Donations Went to Democrats
Of the $32,030 Schneider gave to federal candidates over the years, $3,300 went to Kirk, according to the filings with the Federal Election Commission. The rest went to people like Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Springfield) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Other donations went to Kirk’s 2000 opponent, former state Rep. Lauren Beth Gash (D-Highland Park) and the 10th Congressional District Democrats, an organization she heads.
Like Sheyman about his age, Schneider was not shy with his answer.
“If we knew then what we know now, I would have done differently,” Schneider said. “He was a strong supporter of Israel. He supported choice. The Sierra Club backed him because of his position on the environment. I made a mistake. I own it.”
In 2010, Schneider gave $1,000 to Kirk’s opponent, former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Gianioulis. “Kirk changed, I didn’t,” Schneider told Patch in May.
Glenview Village Trustee Debbie Karton considers Schneider’s donations to Kirk as a potential advantage for him should he be elected to Congress.
“I want someone in D.C. who can work across the aisle,” she said. “Who can work with people who disagree with him.”
In the 9th District, Schakowsky received the group’s unanimous support. In the campaign to succeed retiring state Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest), West Deerfield Township Supervisor Julie Morrison got the nod over Lake Bluff business consultant Milton Sumption, 46-6.