Thursday, October 27, 2005

Independent Candidate Emerges For Bean’s Seat

By Joseph Ryan
Daily Herald Staff Writer

Freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean may have to fight for her seat from both sides in November 2006 as she faces not only a Republican, but also a former Democrat with union support.

Bill Scheurer, who lost to Bean in the 2004 Democratic primary, says he is running either as an independent or under a third-party label for the 8th Congressional District that covers most of Lake, northwestern Cook and western McHenry counties.

He will have to decide by December when petitions are due.

The Lindenhurst attorney’s campaign pitch on balanced budgets and universal health care could make waves in the 2006 November campaign for Bean, who relied on traditionally Democratic supporters in 2004 but reached out to moderate Republicans to unseat Phil Crane, a 35-year conservative icon in the U.S. House.

Scheurer says his candidacy has legs this time because he can attract Bean’s former union supporters, who have split ways with her for supporting an international trade pact they say will cost American jobs.

An early sign of this support, he says, is a $5,000 check to his campaign from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Scheurer claims five other large unions have promised an equal amount, but he declined to name them.

“We went out and supported her campaign last year,” said Jim Brown, who heads the machinist’s unions Midwest territory. “She slapped us in the face.”

The machinists union, which represents 25,000 Illinois workers, has given Bean $15,000 over the last two years, federal records show. Overall, unions gave her 2004 campaign more than $235,000, out of a total of about $1.5 million in her campaign war chest.

Bean’s spokesman Brian Herman declined to comment on Scheurer’s candidacy or union support, other than to say she stands by her vote. Several large corporations in the district supported the trade pact.

This summer, large unions attacked Bean for voting for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, a measure trade-hawk Crane also supported. The Chicago Federation of Labor, an umbrella group for several big unions, and the United Steel Works of America organized pickets of her Schaumburg office. Some vowed to run a challenger.

But for now Scheurer’s $5,000 check is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of cash set to be spent in next year’s general election.

In 2004, Bean and Crane spent a combined $3.1 million. Outside groups spent millions more. This year, Bean already has more than $1.1 million in the bank.

The six Republicans facing off in the primary are also amassing massive campaign war chests. Barrington Hills investment banker David McSweeney and Wauconda attorney Kathy Salvi have committed to spend $1 million.

In his 2004 primary bid against Bean, Scheurer roped in 22 percent of the vote with few volunteers and no money. He had an equally small operation for his subsequent run against Republican state Rep. Jo Ann Osmond in the 61st District in November 2004. He lost that election with 42 percent of the vote.

“We didn’t really run campaigns,” Scheurer said of his earlier bids. “It was more political speech. This is political action.”

Scheurer said his campaign mantra will focus on supporting universal health care, opposing the Iraq war, balancing the federal budget and spending significant public funds to research alternative energy.


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