Since graduating from the Air Force Academy over 21 years and joining the Reserves, the 45-year-old colonel has been in several areas in the business world, working for Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg and even as president of a small granola company. He's spent time in Israel working with the Israeli Air Force--experience he said can help him in office.
Tree said that he decided to run for Congress while on assignment at the Pentagon earlier this year. As Congress flirted with shutting down the government, he said he was part of a team looking into how military members could continue getting paid. He said the behavior he saw from Congress inspired him to want to declare his candidacy by summer's end. This, however, was delayed because of the devastating loss of his 19-year-old daughter due to an accidental drug overdose. It was only after his grieving period that he decided to launch his campaign.
"Coming out of the loss of my daughter, I realized the country needs strong leaders, the country needs people with Democratic values that are going to help people get ahead here," Tree said. "I jumped in because I believe I can win. I believe my message will resonate with the voters because I work for the voters."
Before Tree got in the race, there was a dichotomy developing between the Sheyman and Schneider in the eyes of district voters--either support Schneider because his more moderate positions would be an advantage in the general election, or support Sheyman because his strong progressive values. But the narrative changes now with Tree in the mix.
Tree does have some catching up in to do in fundraising. Schneider still has the financial advantage on Sheyman , who has over $400,000 in the bank, compared to Sheyman's $140,000 at the end of the third fundraising quarter. But Tree said he has a deep network to draw upon for fundraising
All three candidates are making a point to spend a majority of their time campaigning against Dold, who's amassed a nearly $1 million war chest so far.
"It's great to hear (Tree) talking about why we need to defeat Bob Dold," Gash said. "It's a tough row to hoe. It'll be tough for him. This isn't a district that is going to support Tea Party Republicans."