"Away we go, baby!"
That's how Republican Congressman Joe Walsh described the final three-day run up until the election in the 8th Congressional District, where he is bidding for a second term against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in a nationally-watched contest marked by its vitriolic exchanges and record amount of SuperPAC cash.
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Walsh, of McHenry, fired up supporters at a morning rally outside his Schaumburg campaign office by declaring that Democrats are afraid because he is mounting such a tough campaign in a district he charges that has been "drawn for" his opponent. He later went on to visit several businesses, bars and restaurants across the district that stretches from Barrington Hills in the northwest to Oak Brook in the Southeast and includes portions of Kane, Cook and DuPage counties.
Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates, began the day by meeting with voters at a Palatine High School craft fair, perusing booths and buying a few gifts for volunteers along the way, before heading to field offices in Elgin and Addison, and canvass neighborhoods with volunteers.
The race has presented a clear contrast in the two candidates, who offer marked differences in campaign style as well as on the issues, and Duckworth and Walsh's approaches to their final days were no exception.
In the last week, Walsh says he's encountered a number of undecided voters, noting there's "so much people don't know about" his opponent. The Tea Party firebrand has focused the bulk of his criticism in the final days on a lawsuit filed against Duckworth when she was head of the Illinois Veterans Affairs in 2009 by a fired employee he describes as a "whistle-blower" as he has campaigned to pull those undecided votes his way.
Duckworth has written off that suit as "common to the head of any agency" and in turn, has highlighted controversial statements Walsh has made in recent months, as well as suggested improper ties between Walsh and a SuperPAC supporting his campaign, allegations Walsh denies.
At a time that she said "you can't buy ads" anymore, she said she is primarily focused on calling supporters and encouraging them to get out and vote.
"A lot of people will say, you've already got this thing won," Duckworth said. "I'm reminding them that (former three-term Congresswoman) Melissa Bean lost (to Walsh in 2010) by 300 votes, and a lot of them thought she had won it and didn't turn out to vote."
Walsh who has advertised his 16-hour-on-the-go schedule over the last week, cracked that at this point in the campaign he isn't sleeping at all and planned to visit church at "least 13 times" on Sunday.
Duckworth made light of bouts of insomnia as well. "If you follow my tweets, you know I've been waking up at three in the morning," she said.