Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Is Bob Dold Running Away from Paul Ryan?

Could Mitt Romney’s VP choice render Dold—who voted for Ryan’s budgets in 2010 and 2011—a one-termer?

Bob Dold, Paul Ryan, and Brad Schneider
Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan (center) could affect the 10th District race between Bob Dold (left) and Brad Schneider.
 

If you take a look at 10th District Congressman Bob Dold’s website, Paul Ryan’s name is nowhere to be found. There are links to the freshman rep’s work on jobs, on college loans, on Iran sanctions, on the environment—but no mention of Romney’s new pick for VP. But if you go to the website of Dold’s challenger, Brad Schneider, there’s Ryan, front and center. “The new Romney-Ryan-Dold ticket,” Schneider’s website says, linking to a story from the Libertyville Patch that charges the trio will make “seniors pay more while extending unnecessary tax breaks to those who need it the least.” 

Could Romney’s selection of Ryan—with the Wisconsin rep’s Medicare baggage, not to mention his conservative social views, including his strict anti-abortion beliefs—render Dold, who voted for Ryan’s budgets in 2010 and 2011, a one-termer? 

I called Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Poltical Report for his opinion, and his answer was “maybe.”

“The selection of Ryan makes it easier [for Schneider], makes the election about the big differences in philosophies, makes it easier for President Obama and Democrats to find a comfortable narrative,” Rothenberg said. “I don’t think it helps Dold. He has to show even more that he’s not a Ryan budget Republican. Schneider will say, `Look at the Republican Party. What if they win the White House and the Senate and hang on to the House?’” 

And yet, cautioned Rothenberg, it’s too soon to tell. “Forty-eight hours after Ryan was tapped, it seemed like a big deal. But the further we get away from it, attention focuses back on Romney and Obama, back on jobs, the unemployment rate,” he said. “There’s a tendency to exaggerate the importance [of the VP selection]. Once we hit October and November, it’s not going to have a huge impact. This election will be about job growth and the economy.” 

Rothenberg offered still another qualifier:  The 10th was “already a bad district for Republicans, made worse by redistricting.” Indeed, the 10th is often described as the most Democratic currently in Republican hands.

Still, Politico reporter Kate Nocera described Dold as one of those “trying to create some distance from the Ryan world view.” She writes that “…Ryan is now every Republicans’ running mate whether they like it or not….” 

That Romney says he’s offering his own plan, not adopting Ryan’s—and that even under the Ryan’s plan those seniors who want to can remain on Medicare (and no one above age 55 will see any changes at all)—hasn’t stopped the robocalls. One already has hit Dold’s district (and 49 others).

“Your Congressman, Robert Dold, voted for a budget that would end Medicare, and now the budget’s architect, Paul Ryan, is the Republican candidate for vice president,” the robocall says, according to a piece by Greg Hinz in Crain’s. “A nonpartisan analysis showed that Ryan’s budget would raise healthcare costs for seniors by $6,400. The Tax Policy Center also said the Ryan budget would give people making over $1 million a year an average tax break of $265,000. And Congressman Dold supported all of it. That’s just wrong." 

Other districts in Illinois that the Democrats are targeting, specifically in the wake of Ryan’s selection, include the 8th (Joe Walsh vs. Tammy Duckworth) and the 11th (Judy Biggert vs, Bill Foster), as well as the 12th, 13th, and 17th. 

Calls to both Dold and Schneider were not returned.

POSTSCRIPT: In the Washington Post: “A new Democratic poll conducted for House Majority PAC in Illinois’ 10th District shows Rep. Bob Dold ® and Democratic challenger Brad Schneider tied at 46 percent apiece. Dold, a freshman running in a heavily Democratic district, is one of the cycle’s most vulnerable incumbents.”

Photography: (Dold) U.S. House of Representatives; (Ryan) Tobyotter (CC by 2.0); (Schneider) Schneider for Congress

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