The Mason-Dixon Poll found Bill Brady leading Pat Quinn 44 percent to 40 percent. That's a virtual tie because the poll's margin for error is four percent.
There are stark differences between the two candidates for governor and how they would resolved the state huge budget deficit. The unelected Pat Quinn--with a long history as a liberal progressive--has served as governor for nearly 21 months, while conservative, downstate senator Bill Brady won the Republican primary by fewer than 200 votes.
The campaign has grown more caustic as Election Day nears. At every opportunity, Senator Brady reminds voters of the Rod Blagojevich corruption scandal and that Pat Quinn was twice the ousted governor's running mate.
"You, by the way, are the same governor who told us that Rod Blagojevich, your partner, to save your job four years ago, was the most decent and honorable man you had met," said Sen. Brady.
Quinn turns the focus on the Bloomington developer's 17 years as relatively low-profile lawmaker and allegations that Brady has used his Senate seat to advance his business interests.
"On three separate occasions, Senator Brady voted on a bill to help himself, to help his own real estate interests," said Quinn. "You heard the word tonight, he said he didn't knowingly do it. That's what people say when they're going to court and they have to defend themselves in a criminal trial."
But most of the battle centers around the state budget. Since Quinn became governor last year, the deficit has swollen to over $13 billion, including a $6 billion in unpaid bills. The governor says even though he's cut spending by $3 billion the state still needs to raise the state income tax from three to four percent to make sure education is not cut.
"What I've proposed is a one percent surcharge to invest in our education and I think that helps everyone, particularly those who are of low and moderate income," said Quinn.
"I've made it clear, no new taxes, but clearly there's no more dangerous place to be than between Governor Quinn and a tax hike," said Brady.
"Look at all the Republican governors. Before the election, Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, Jim Ryan, George Ryan, they all said they wouldn't raise taxes. That's what they did," said Quinn.
Senator Brady says spending cuts--at least ten percent overall--are a better path to a balanced budget. He would begin with by eliminating Medicaid benefits for those who could afford private insurance.
"The Medicaid program under Governor Quinn allows people like Governor Quinn to walk in and receive an eligibility card. We don't verify eligibility in the Medicaid program," said Brady.
The state senator also wants to reduce the amount Illinois business pay into workers' compensation. He says making the state more attractive to business would bring more jobs.
"We can not raise taxes. Raising taxes will kill jobs," said Brady.
But the governor counters that having a quality and adequately funded education system is a more important factor to whether businesses locate in Illinois.
"Ford Motor Company came to our state with 1,200 new manufacturing jobs. They didn't go to Indiana. They came to Illinois because we have well-educated well-skilled workers. Navistar, they're actually taking jobs from Indiana and moving them to Illinois," said Quinn.
Both Quinn and Brady began the last week of the campaign focused on the Chicago region.
Many political experts believe this race could be decided in the suburbs or collar counties as they are known. The conventional wisdom is that's where the most independent voters live.