Quinn looks to Obamas for momentum
Gov. Pat Quinn welcomes a second round of Democratic heavy hitters to Illinois this week in hopes national star power that hails from his home state will bring momentum to his campaign as it enters the last month.
First lady Michelle Obama will campaign for Quinn today in Chicago, and Park Ridge native Hillary Clinton is scheduled to be in the area Wednesday.
Quinn's opponent, Republican Bruce Rauner, has been praised by members of his party for the energy he's brought to an Illinois GOP that has suffered big losses here in recent years.
With this week's visits and a campaign stop by President Barack Obama last week, Quinn is looking for more spark of his own with a month to go before Election Day.
Both candidates are looking for any boost they can get between now and Nov. 4.
Thursday brings their first televised debate downstate, and Quinn's administration faces tough hearings this week over what some allege was misspending in his 2010 anti-violence program.
Rauner and Quinn are clamoring for independent voters in the suburbs to come to their side -- voters who likely picked Obama at the top of the ticket two years ago. But suburban Republicans say they feel energized.
Ryan Higgins, leader of the Schaumburg Township Republican Organization, said he's seen more Rauner volunteers knocking on doors than Republicans have seen in previous years.
Former DuPage County Republican Party chairman Randy Ramey says Rauner's financial commitment to the race has encouraged the party faithful that the governor's office can be won.
"It's not the old, 'We're going to lose again because of all the voters in Chicago,'" Ramey said. "It's encouraging."
Rauner has campaigned multiple times with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the leader of the Republican Governors Association, in recent weeks and has gotten a big cash boost from that group.
And the Obamas' appearances for Quinn further cement Illinois' governor's race as a nationally important election.
"The excitement of the president of the United States being there is unbelievable," said state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat and chairman of the Lake County part.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, agreed.
"It's a reflection of the fact that there are people across our country in very influential positions who believe in (Quinn)," Kotowski said.
In the end, both candidates appear to have the money they need to keep their faces in front of voters for the next month, and every issue that arises in that time could be a battle.
The heightened push by both sides with a month to go is likely no accident. Mail ballots are being sent out for what could be a record level of early voting well before Nov. 4.
"We're not talking about four weeks from now," Link said. "We're talking about today."