A newsletter named "Illinois Democrat," mailed to residents of the 17th Congressional District by U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, has infuriated opponents who see it as a ploy to trick voters into thinking he's a Democrat.
Staffers for Democrat Cheri Bustos, Rep. Schilling's opponent, said their office has been inundated with calls complaining about the newsletter.
"Bobby Schilling wants you to believe that he's a Democrat, nothing could be further from the truth," Doug House, Rock Island County Democratic party chairman said during a news conference Tuesday in Rock Island.
"He's taken this extreme effort of fraud to perpetrate upon Democratic voters and voters of the 17th Congressional District and portray himself as a Democrat," Mr. House said.
The 16-page newsletter says Rep. Schilling sits "right in the middle" of the political spectrum and has 13 years of union experience while Ms. Bustos, of East Moline, has no union experience.The newsletter also promotes Rep. Schilling's vote to re-authorize the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires that workers on public works projects be paid prevailing wages and is supported by unions.
Terry Schilling, Rep. Schilling's campaign manager, said the newsletter was designed to target Democratic voters, but there was no attempt to hide the fact that Rep. Schilling is a Republican.
"In this election for Congress, many proud Democrats are crossing over to vote for Bobby," the first line on the front page of the newsletter reads.
A spokesman for Ms. Bustos said he was concerned the newsletter could confuse some voters.
Mr. Schilling disagreed."They are just trying to spin this because they know it's effective," he said.
A new poll by We Ask America shows Rep. Schilling's attempt to flip voters appears to have gained some traction.The poll of 1,325 likely voters in the 17th District found 16 percent of Democrats are for Rep. Schilling, while 11 percent of Republicans support Ms. Bustos.
The poll, conducted Oct. 28, put Rep. Schilling ahead 52-48 percent.But pollsters said they considered the race to be a "dead heat" based on an average of three recent polls, one of which had Ms. Bustos ahead by nearly three points.
Dino Leone, vice president of the Quad City Federation of Labor, said at the news conference that Rep. Schilling did not represent organized labor."It shows me that he's desperate and he's running behind and he's willing to do anything to create deception among voters."
The Bustos campaign paid for 80,000 robocalls to 17th district residents to counter the newsletter.Tom Gaulrapp, a worker at Sensata Technologies in Freeport, whose job is being outsourced to China, recorded the robocall.
"The day before the election, Bain Capital is shipping my job to China because of polices that Congressman Bobby Schilling supports," Mr. Gaulrapp said in the robocall "He isn't a Democrat, no matter what his pamphlets say. He's a tea party Republican."
Ms. Bustos has criticized Rep. Schilling for failing to support policies that could reduce offshoring of U.S. jobs like those at Sensata. The company is majority-owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Today is Monday, Dec. 9, the 343rd day of 2013. There are 22 days left in the year. 1863 — 150 years ago: All last week were favored with the most delightful Indian summer weather. The mercury ranged from 40 to 65 degrees and the ice is entirely gone out of the river. 1888 — 125 years ago: W.D. Reimers was given charge of the Weyerhaeuser-Denkmann mill in Davenport. 1913 — 100 years ago: Eight hundred or more tons of earth in six landslides, covered 38th Street for a distance of 200 feet near 7th Avenue and destroyed much property. 1938 — 75 years ago: Patrolman Joseph H. Schnelder, of Moline, has been awarded four medals for proficiency in marksmanship. He is the crack pistol shot of the Rock Island district. 1963 — 50 years ago: For the 83rd year, George Frederic Handel's "Messiah" was performed at Augustana College ushering in the spiritual aspect of the Christmas season. 1988 — 25 years ago: A water main break Thursday night, the fourth this week, affected 35 homes near the 2200 block of 39th Street, Rock Island, city officials said today.