Mark Kirk and Bill Brady appeared together in suburban Northbrook and greeted a much smaller crowd, compared to the Democrats' rally in Hyde Park.
Still, supporters were no less enthusiastic. A few hundred turned out for the last of three joint appearances Saturday by Congressman Mark Kirk and State Sen. Bill Brady. The two plan to continue campaigning together Sunday and Monday. They will push for votes at a number of downstate locations where Brady is popular, and where Kirk hopes to make some gains.
The joint strategy is part of an effort, in these final days, to consolidate the conservative and moderate wings of the GOP.
At the rally held in Kirk's congressional district, the suburban moderate touted the conservative downstater.
"I need your support. Bill Brady needs your support," said Kirk.
Brady has a running mate in candidate for lieutenant governor Jason Plummer, but they way Kirk and Brady were talking Saturday, one might think the two of them were on the same ticket.
"Bill, south of I-80, for me, north of I-80, unlike the other ticket, we are more balanced in representing the whole state. In fact, today, we've been campaigning from Carbondale to Northbrook," said U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk.
"Mark Kirk understands the fiscal crisis this state's in. He understands how to create jobs. He knows we have to fend off the power grab in Washington," said Brady.
In this final stretch of the campaign, Kirk and Brady hope to draw from each other's geographical and political strengths. For Bloomington native Brady, it's about mobilizing suburban Republicans. For Kirk, who is from the North Shore, it's all about the conservative downstate vote.
"We're building our base. There's a wave of support that is building towards this election, and Mark Kirk and I, and the rest of the ticket, are traveling the state to make sure we thank people for their support and we continue that wave to election day," said Brady, who is campaigning to become the state's next governor.
Kirk and Brady are closing out their campaigns with the same economic themes they've been hitting over the last several weeks. They downplayed the president's visit to Chicago Saturday, saying they welcomed the president back to his home city and state, but they don't think, ultimately, that the president's political coattails will be as long this time around as they were two years ago.
"In the end, this is a contest between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias," Kirk said.
"Pat Quinn has proven he doesn't have a plan for Illinois. I don't think anyone can come in and sway the voters," Brady said.
Both races could hinge on the ground game. The GOP has been furiously calling supporters.
Although Democrats say early voting numbers tilt in their favor, the GOP sees a different trend.
"I don't know what numbers they're looking at. We're really pleased with early voting for our party. We're setting records," said Brady.
Brady and Kirk were expected to criss-cross the state Sunday with five scheduled joint appearances, the last of which is a rally in Chicago on the near North Side.