Businessman Brad Schneider (D) won his primary against young liberal organizer Ilya Sheyman (D) in their suburban Chicago House primary, setting up a match-up against freshman Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) in the Democratic-leaning district.
The result is a major letdown for the liberal groups that had stepped in on Sheyman's behalf. Those groups, including MoveOn.org, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's (D) Democracy for America, had made the race a high priority. Sheyman had worked for many of those groups in the past.
Republicans had privately hoped Sheyman would be the nominee as Dold faces a tough race against Schneider.
A recent poll conducted for the liberal groups backing Sheyman showed him with a big lead, and local Democrats thought Sheyman had a better ground organization. Sheyman had grown confident enough he was going to win to target his final campaign release at Dold, not Schneider. But the results proved them all wrong.
Schneider was backed by many local elected officials as well as the Chicago Tribune, an influential paper in the district. While both candidates are Jewish, he also sought to paint Sheyman as insufficiently pro-Israel. The issue might have made a difference in the race, since the district has a large Jewish population.
After congratulating Sheyman and the two other Democrats in the race for a good campaign, Schneider went after Dold's record.
"It’s time for Congress to start focusing on middle-class families again," he said in his victory speech. "After two short years, Congressman Bob Dold has forgotten who he is supposed to fight for. He would rather spend his time defunding Planned Parenthood, shutting down the federal government and fighting to end Medicare as we know it. I am running to make sure we give Bob Dold and his Tea Party friends a one-way ticket home."
The district has long backed centrists of both parties: Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) held it for nearly a decade, and while Dold was one of the more conservative candidates in the 2010 GOP primary, he is in favor of abortion rights.
Schneider spent the last week touting his "progressive" values, including his stances in favor of protecting the environment, legalizing gay marriage and keeping abortion legal, but has the backing of the fiscally centrist New Democrat Coalition and is more of a centrist than Sheyman on some economic issues.
This post was updated at 10:30 p.m.