Businessman Brad Schneider (D) won a competitive Democratic primary earlier this year, much to party operatives’ relief. They viewed Schneider, a strong fundraiser with a fiscally moderate profile, as the best possible candidate to face Dold.
To show they’re serious about the seat, the DCCC already reserved more than $3 million in fall airtime in the Chicago media market for three House races, including this one. House Republicans have yet to reserve any time there.
If House Democrats can’t win this seat in November, it will be one of their biggest blunders of the cycle.
Pennsylvania's 6th District: Rep. Jim Gerlach
This suburban Philadelphia district should have been an easy pickup for Democrats, especially in the wave elections of 2006 and 2008. The region has trended in their favor politically over the past decade when an increasing number of independents voted for Democrats — especially suburban women.
But Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) has owned this seat ever since he drew it for himself as a state legislator during the 2002 redraw — and the next 10 years look even better for him. President Barack Obama carried his current district with 58 percent, but now he’ll seek re-election in a district that Obama won with just 53 percent.
The redrawn district stretches farther west toward the center of the state (i.e., Republicans) and away from Montgomery County (i.e., Democrats).
Truth be told, Gerlach is a pretty lucky Republican. Democrats repeatedly failed because they ended up nominating candidates who couldn’t finish the job during their best opportunity cycles.
In 2006, Gerlach faced a rematch from 2004 with Lois Murphy, an attorney and a strong fundraiser, who lost by less than 2 points. In the second, stronger Democratic wave of 2008, Democrats nominated little-known businessman Bob Roggio, and Gerlach survived by a 4-point margin.
This November, Gerlach faces physician Manan Trivedi for the second cycle in a row. Trivedi is a strong candidate, but Gerlach has probably cemented his hold on this district.
Washington's 8th district: Rep. Dave Reichert
Democratic candidates have dipped far into their own wallets to try to defeat Rep. Dave Reichert (R) without success. Cycle after cycle, Democrats recruited strong candidates only to see Reichert squeak by with single-digit victories.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.