The campaign and independent credentials of U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) may have received a boost this week as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the country’s most recognizable political independent and a billionaire to boot, indicated that he will use some of his cash in support of Dold. However, it is unclear why Bloomberg likes Dold more than Democratic challenger Brad Schneider of Deerfield, outside of the fact that Bloomberg has previously worked with the lawmaker.
The New York Times reported yesterday that Bloomberg formed a Super Political Action Committee that plans to spend up to $15 million in close local and Congressional races. The article identified four candidates who Bloomberg has already singled out, including Dold, based on the North Shore lawmaker’s stance on gun control.
Dold, who did not return calls for comment today, says on his campaign Web site that “I have worked with organizations like Mayor Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns” and “I support reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.”
But Schneider has similar gun control rhetoric on his Web site and goes a step further by laying out specific legislation he would support as a member of Congress. This includes reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, a bill that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996, which expired in 2004.
Dold has not given his position on the assaults weapon ban. In an interview with the Vernon Hills Review this August, campaign spokesman John McGovern answered a question about the assault weapons ban by noting that Dold “supports closing gun show loopholes” and “has worked with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of potential terrorists.”
The assault weapons ban somewhat reemerged as a national issue this week. President Barack Obama was asked during the presidential debate Tuesday what he has done to keep AK-47 automatic weapons off the street.
The president responded by essentially endorsing a return to the assault weapons ban. But he then pivoted to a discussion of other topics and appears unlikely to expend political capital on the issue.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney opposes the assault weapons ban.
Super PACs are allowed to give unlimited cash to political candidates so long as they do not directly coordinate with the campaign. It is not known how much money Bloomberg will set aside for Dold, who has raised more money than Schneider. Dold broughtin $3.9 million through the end of September compared to Schenider's $2.6 million.
Each candidate has benefited from Super PAC money. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the House Majority PAC has contributed nearly $1 million to Schneider. Lunch Pail Republicans and the New Prosperity Foundation are Super PACs that have given six figures to Dold.