WASHINGTON -- The progressive movement lost one of its biggest primary battles in the 2012 cycle Tuesday. Ilya Sheyman, a 25-year-old community activist, was defeated by businessman Brad Schneider, who will now face Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) in the November election for Illinois' new 10th Congressional District.
Schneider received 47 percent of the vote, with 99 percent reporting. Sheyman received 39 percent, and the other two candidates -- John Tree and Vivek Bavda -- received a combined 14 percent.
Sheyman conceded shortly after 9 p.m. CT to a full room at an election night party at the Ramada Inn in Waukegan, Ill., according to a source at the gathering. He told his supporters that he already had called Schneider and conceded.
The progressive movement threw all its muscle behind Sheyman, who had a team of 600 volunteers participating in a get-out-the-vote effort. He told The Huffington Post Tuesday, before the polls closed, that in the past couple days his campaign had knocked on more than 12,000 doors and made more than 15,000 phone calls.
"We have 15,000 MoveOn members on the ground in the 10th Congressional District," he said. "We have thousands in the American Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America," Sheyman said. "So these are literally the people who are the boots on the ground, who have worked in campaigns in the past, who are fired up to elect a progressive. They're the ones who have built the backbone in the district with their volunteer army."
And as Paul Blumenthal reported, USAction, MoveOn.org and the Communications Workers of America united prior to Tuesday's election to paper primary voters' houses with negative mailings about Schneider. The mailings were strategically timed to coincide with the home stretch of the primary race.
Sheyman's loss will no doubt lead to some soul-searching and strategy analysis in the coming days for the progressive movement. Sheyman, the former national mobilization director for MoveOn.org during the health care reform debate and a former employee of TrueMajority.org, had surged in one late poll.
In a pre-election night interview Tuesday, Schneider said the progressive groups certainly made a difference in the race, and he criticized their attacks on him.
"What I've said all along is that I think the voters of this difference should be put in a position to make up their own mind to judge the candidates based on the true reflection of the record. The fact that [a number] of organizations and individuals came into the race and distorted my background, my record -- they've made assertions that other people had to come out and say were clearly not true," he said.
Schneider said that his 50 years of experience -- and at least 25 years of work experience -- distinguished him the most from Sheyman. His larger message, however, won't change when running against Dold, he said.
"We have to get Congress working again, we've got to get the country moving forward again," said Schneider. "We have to focus on growing the economy, getting people working again, so they can put a roof over their heads to provide health care and education for their children and plan for their retirement. Our message has been consistent since day one."