Emily’s List, a group dedicated to electing Democratic women to office, has named Dold among nine Republicans who it considers vulnerable to a female challenger and may allocate resources to defeat the congressman in 2012. The organization claims Dold's record is consistently “anti-woman” since joining Congress in January.
“The budget that Rep. Dold voted for included just about every anti-woman measure under the sun,” said Jess McIntosh, spokeswoman for the Washington-based group. “It would eliminate the family planning services women rely on to keep themselves and their families healthy.”
McIntosh's claim stems in part from what the group see's as Dold's desire to join with other House members to defund Planned Parenthood during the debate over two weeks ago.
However, the family planning group sees the Illinois congressman from Kenilworth as a supporter rather than an adversary.
“They [Emily’s List] don’t tell us what to do,” said Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood. “[Dold] actually spoke on the floor of the House in support of family planning and women’s health.”
Dold was one of seven Republicans who voted in favor of Planned Parenthood and the only one who spoke in its defense, according to Sutherland.
When the final legislation was negotiated between President Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH),
Downplaying Emily’s List
Dold dismissed his inclusion on Emily’s List as a political move that disregards his voting record in favor of the group's agenda to replace him with a Democrat.
“Some groups are more interested in politics than policy,” Dold said. “I voted twice to keep funding for Planned Parenthood to provide preventive health care services, such as cancer screenings, well-woman exams, HIV testing and birth control.
"I have been, and will continue to be, an advocate for women’s healthcare in Congress,” he added.
Former state (R-Glenview) also dismissed the Emily’s List criticism as politics. Dold defeated Coulson and others in the February 2010 primary to earn his party’s nomination in the House race, which he won with 51 percent of the vote in November.
“This is what I would expect [from Emily’s List]. We know what they care about,” Coulson said. “People in the 10th District always review the facts and look at the record as much as any congressional district we may have [in this country].”
McIntosh thinks the House's Republican majority is using fiscal restraint as an excuse to hurt women.
“Dold and his Republican allies ran on job creation," McIntosh said. "But once in office, they pulled a bait-and-switch to focus on a radical agenda that takes away women’s rights and opportunities.
"We started this campaign to remind folks about the bait-and-switch in the GOP agenda and to suggest that might spell trouble for Republicans in 2012," she explained.
Job creation remains a priority
For his part, Dold says he has not veered from the need .
"My top priority has always been job creation,” he said. “I recently set up a 10th District jobs task force and have been traveling the district speaking with the unemployed, small businesses, financial institutions and educators to develop a plan to get our local economy back on track.”
Some have not only doubted Dold’s support of women’s issues, but also whether he is a good fit for the 10th Congressional District. (D-Highland Park) questions his stated support for a women’s right to have an abortion.
“[Dold] has dodged the issue," May said. "This district needs a leader on choice. Let it be known this is a very important issue in this district, and we need a representative with a strong record.”
Another Democrat who thinks Dold’s philosophy may put obstacles in his path to re-election is President Priscilla Sperling of Glencoe. She sees Dold’s reluctance to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire as a problem.
“I expect when we see decisions like this [the Bush-era tax cuts], he will prove more conservative than the district,” Sperling said. “This will not be a plus for him.”
(D-Deerfield) takes an even harsher view. She is critical of many of Dold’s votes with the Republican majority.
“He doesn’t represent me,” Feldman said. “He goes along with the Republicans and the Tea Party people.”
Rene Thaler of Northbrook worked in the administration of former Gov. Jim Edgar, who was in office from 1991-99. Thaler, a Republican who is a former Democrat, cites Dold’s support of women’s issues and other policies as reasons he is a good fit the area.
“Bob Dold is phenomenal on women’s issues," Thaler said. "His support of Israel and sound fiscal policies leave no doubt in my mind he is right for this district. He not only supports a women’s right to choose, but funding for breast cancer screenings and other issues of health for women."
Like Coulson, Thaler discounts Emily’s List’s attack on Dold’s record regarding women's issues. “They’ll go after anyone where there is a swing district," she said.
Congressional votes create hard choices
When asked about cutting funding from Planned Parenthood, Dold defended his decision, arguing that it was done to avoid a government shutdown.
“We have to take a look at what the bill will do,” Dold said. “We did not want to shut down the government. We voted to keep defense spending through Sept. 30. We cut spending $36.5 billion this [fiscal] year.”
May understands the conundrum Dold faces when legislators must vote on a bill that has items they dislike. She has been there too.
“If it’s something very important you vote for it," May said. "In general, issues of women’s health and choice are very important."
Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood, a Republican from Lake Forest, dislikes the inclusion of any politically charged issues, such as Planned Parenthood, in emergency legislation to fund government operations through the end of the fiscal year. She would exclude them all.
“They (Congress) should leave the hot button issues out,” said Wood, who served in the Illinois House of Representatives before becoming lieutenant governor. “The deficit is the biggest issue we face to get our country back on track. That’s too bad for us (the American people).”
May, Coulson, Thaler, Feldman, Sperling and Dold all agree on one thing. They know the state is losing a seat in Congress due to redistricting based on U.S. Census data.
, the new boundaries are unknown. All districts will increase from their current size of about 650,000 people to nearly 710,000.
“I’d like to keep as much of the 10th District intact as possible,” Dold said. “This is a great district and the race will be competitive as it always has been.”
Dold is off to a fast start in a possible re-election campaign, even if the district’s boundaries are uncertain. He was one of the top GOP fundraisers among House freshmen, collecting about $311,000 for the quarter that ended March 31, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.