"It's my honor to introduce our candidate for governor, Dan Hynes," said Cook County Cmsr. John Daley at an event Saturday.
That endorsement for Hynes came from organized labor, and more importantly, from the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
"Dan Hynes came to me very early on and asked for my support for governor. I made the commitment," John Daley said.
Daley announced his support one day after a new poll showed the comptroller and Quinn are neck-and-neck in the Democratic primary race for governor. Meanwhile, controversy over an inmate early release program and the state's budget woes continue to pick away at Quinn's once-significant lead.
"He's been in office a year, and our problems are getting worse .Our deficit is bigger. Our debt, the amount of money we borrow, is growing larger. The bills that we can't pay are mounting, and our communities are less safe, as a result of these budget problems, as well as bad judgment by the governor," Hynes said.
The poll of 601 likely Democratic voters showed Quinn with 44 percent and Hynes with 40 percent of the vote. Approximately 13 percent of those polled remained undecided. The survey has a 4 percent error margin.
The governor's better than 2-to-1 lead over his rival began to dwindle in December after Hynes hammered Quinn with television ads criticizing him for releasing inmates early from prison to save money.
Quinn has called the program a mistake, and while at Operation Push Saturday morning, he blasted Hynes for the negative ads.
"I'm not going to let a low-road politician with low-road ads destroy what we're trying to do in Illinois," said Quinn. "For one year, we've worked together to put our state back together."
Also, a group of ministers expressed their outrage Saturday over the use of a 1987 interview with the late Mayor Harold Washington by the Hynes campaign. In it, Washington talks about having to fire Quinn, his revenue director at the time.
"Dan Hynes, in particular, he worked on his father's campaign when he was 18. They were against Harold Washington, and he owes him an apology," said Pastor Ralph Andrew Tolbert of the Abundant Life Community Christian Church.
Political strategist Kevin Lampe says candidates need to make sure not to become too negative.
"The Democrats have learned, and have done well in the suburbs over the past couple of years, that they need to do well out there to win in the primary," he said.
Political experts add that voter turnout will be key in the election, which is why supporters will be out in force to get the vote out.
The Chicago Tribune also looked at the Republican candidates. Former state GOP Chairman Andy McKenna, former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, and State Sen. Kirk Dillard lead the field, but none has 20 percent of the vote, according to the Tribune.
The biggest category was 38 percent for undecided voters or other.
The primary election is set for February 2.