The Democrats running for Congress in Chicago's Northern suburbs are making their case about who's more qualified for the job and who's more of a Democrat.
At a 10th District debate Thursday night on WTTW public television, 50-year-old business consultant Brad Schneider compared his resume to that of a 25-year-old competitor, Ilya Sheyman.
"Ilya was the online organizer for MoveOn, which is sending out 5 million emails. And that's good work, but it's not the experience of running a business, hiring people," Schneider said.
Sheyman wouldn't let that comment sit.
"I appreciate Brad pulling a Sarah Palin and insulting community organizers for their experience," Schneider said. "My job was to figure out: How do you channel the voices of 5-million ordinary Americans into the political process?"
"Ilya’s passion for public service led him to work for then Senator Barack Obama," the site reads. "In his role in Constituent Services he helped Illinoisans with questions about Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and Military Affairs navigate the bureaucracy of the federal government."
John Tree, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, said after the debate he hopes to be an alternative to that back-and-forth.
"They sit there and beat each other up all day long and then I can sit there and come in and win the vote on March 20th," Tree said.
Along with attorney Vivek Bavda, who stresses his work for the federal reserve and as a teacher, these candidates are running for the chance to face freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold in November.
The primary has grown increasingly negative recently, as Sheyman and groups that support him went after Schneider for political donations he made to Republican candidates, including now-U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, the North Shore's former congressman.
"When we talk about you, Brad, you supported and helped elect people like [U.S. Sen.] Mike Johanns, from Nebraska, who just last week led the fight against women's contraception coverage in the U.S. Senate," Sheyman said.
For his part, Schneider said most of his contributions went to Democrats.
"A handful of them were to Republicans, all of them in the context of their support of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship," Schneider said.
Bavda declined to enter the fray, instead focusing on his own qualifications and a jobs plan he said could win bipartisan support.