GOP candidates for gov. rally voters

February 1, 2010 8:44:26 PM PST
The six candidates in the Republican race for governor made their final push Monday before voters go to the polls in the 2010 Illinois Primary.Political experts say it is a virtual toss-up between the top three Republican candidates running for governor. Polls suggest they are within a point or two of each other with a large block of Republican voters still undecided. Some are also predicting a low voter turnout which makes getting their supporters to the polls critical.

Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan worked the phones Monday night from his Elmhurst campaign headquarters. He was not only thanking supporters but rallying them for the big push to get out the vote Tuesday.

"When push comes to shove, when they get in the polling booths, I think I'm gonna win," said Ryan.

Polls suggest Ryan is in a tight race with former state party boss Andy McKenna. Both were shaking hands just a few feet apart Monday morning as commuters arrived at Union Station. McKenna is trying to run as a political outsider. "We're just trying to motivate voters to believe in our ideas and I think that we've really been encouraged by the support we've gotten and all the measures you look at, people are getting motivated," said McKenna.

Other candidates were also out shaking hands Monday night. Bill Brady was at Union Station. Dan Proft was in Chicago over the weekend but spent much of the day downstate meeting with voters. Adam Adrzejewski met with supporters at the Polish American Museum hoping to drum up some support in the final hours of the campaign.

Experts say the handshakes are nice but likely will make little difference at this point.

"Retail politics is over. It's all what's going on in television and large ruminations. And then whatever happens on Election Day where the organizations, such as they are, will do their work," said Don Rose, political consultant.

For the third front runner, Kirk Dillard, the work will be done with a heavy heart. The state senator lost his father Saturday night and cancelled his weekend appearances. But Dillard was back out Monday and says that's what his father would have wanted.

"I will miss him dearly. But my mom and sisters want me, as I'm sure my father, to continue to move forward," said Sen. Dillard.

Tuesday's primary will be the earliest in Illinois history for a non-presidential election cycle. The primary used to be held in March, but lawmakers moved it to February before the last elections. Experts say that is one of the biggest factors in what they predict will be a low turnout. Some say less than 20 percent of registered voters will make it to the polls.