Quinn, Rauner hit suburbs in final appeal to voters

  • Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, left, is running for re-election against Repubican Bruce Rauner.

    Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, left, is running for re-election against Repubican Bruce Rauner.

  • First lady Michelle Obama holds hands during a rally Saturday for Illinois Democratic candidates Gov. Pat Quinn, second left, Sen. Dick Durbin, right, and Rep. Cheri Bustos, left, at Wharton Field House in Moline, Ill.

    First lady Michelle Obama holds hands during a rally Saturday for Illinois Democratic candidates Gov. Pat Quinn, second left, Sen. Dick Durbin, right, and Rep. Cheri Bustos, left, at Wharton Field House in Moline, Ill. Associated Press

  • Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner speaks to plant employees during a visit to Crescent Cardboard Co. Friday in Wheeling.

      Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner speaks to plant employees during a visit to Crescent Cardboard Co. Friday in Wheeling. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/1/2014 8:32 PM

The two candidates for Illinois governor are flying around the state on a furious, last-minute push to get people to vote after months of trying to stamp their pitches into voters' minds.

Both are making stops in the suburbs in their final trips. Suburban voters have shown an independent streak in recent elections, so both Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner know success here could be vital.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Quinn stopped Saturday evening in Waukegan, more than 100 miles from where he started the day with a rally with Michelle Obama in Moline, on the far western border of the state.

Just last week, Quinn dispatched a top state school official to Waukegan Unit District 60, where a teachers strike had worn on for nearly a month, and a tentative agreement was reached that day.

"I think the governor is well-respected in Waukegan right now," said state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat.

Rauner will come to north suburban Lincolnshire Monday for his final rally before Election Day. He'll be joined by U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, suburban Republicans running for Congress and former Gov. Jim Edgar.

Kirk won at the top of the ticket in 2010 at a time when the GOP candidate for governor lost, providing Rauner with a model for how to campaign in a state that leans Democratic.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The last few days of the Rauner campaign include more than a dozen stops around the state, hitting all the major downstate media markets and making at least three stops in the Chicago area. He visited a manufacturer in Wheeling on Friday and toured the suburbs earlier in the week.

"He's been keeping up a pretty intense schedule, so I don't think there are many voters who he hasn't tried to get out and meet," said Palatine Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison.

Meanwhile, Libertarian Chad Grimm is hoping to draw at least 5 percent of the vote, which would make it easier for his party to get candidates on the ballot in future elections. Grimm could get protest votes from Illinoisans tired of the negative campaigning of Quinn and Rauner. The small-government philosophy of the Libertarian Party could draw votes from Rauner.

Quinn and Rauner have tried to offer voters a stark choice. Quinn paints Rauner as a businessman concerned only with profits. Rauner points to Quinn's lifetime in politics and tells voters he's offering a change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Both sides agree, though, that the historic race for governor could come down to a narrow margin Tuesday night -- or later if the vote count bleeds into the rest of the week. And the likely importance of the suburbs is clear.

"He understands the importance of the collar counties," Link said of Quinn.

"Suburban voters I talk to are very much in tune with his message. Now the question is -- are they going to come out to vote or not?" Morrison said of Rauner.

"Every single vote matters," Morrison said. The last time we had a governor's race it was decided by 30,000 votes. ... A voter turnout difference of a few points could win or lose this race."

Republicans see Illinois as a chance to not only pick up a governorship but deliver a blow to President Barack Obama and his party, said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. The president and Michelle Obama have come to Chicago to campaign for Quinn, and Short and other Republicans say winning would send a clear message that even voters in Obama's home state no longer embrace his policies.

Illinois' top Democrats are relying on a plan to counter the typical drop in turnout among the party's base in midterm elections and the historically bad results for a president's party during his final term.

They're using what U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin calls an "Obama-style model," using both public and private data to identify which voters are most likely to support Quinn and other Democrats and get them to the polls. The strategy focuses on absentee and early voting. The Democrat-controlled Legislature this spring extended early voting and OK'd same-day voter registration and on-campus Election Day absentee voting.

Republicans have their own strategies to increase turnout using some of the same techniques. They say they feel good about their candidate and their odds to complete a near-sweep of the Midwest by the GOP.

•The Associated Press contributed to this story.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.