Candidates looking for last-minute support

October 31, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Republicans got some help from Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown during an event on the North Side. Earlier in the day, the Democrats running for senator and governor hung out with President Obama at his favorite Hyde Park cafeteria.

Three candidates for governor also took part in a debate on this very busy, final weekend of the campaign.

Sensing a chance to win their first statewide election in eight years, Illinois Republicans rallied around their ticket toppers: Congressman Mark Kirk for the U.S. Senate and State Sen. Bill Brady for governor.

"I think there are a lot of people fed up with one party rule and corruption, and we represent the new clean team," Kirk said.

The get-out-the-vote rally featured Sen. Scott Brown, who stunned the nation earlier in the year when he won a special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts.

"This is about everybody, Republicans, Independents, Democrats to send a very powerful message that they've had enough," said Brown.

Earlier in the day, President Obama made a morning stop in support of the Democratic candidates. Despite his late night out following a Chicago rally Saturday, Mr. Obama was up early Sunday for breakfast. With him were Alexi Giannoulias-- the Democrat running for Obama's former U.S. Senate seat-- and Gov. Pat Quinn. Both Democratic candidates will be involved in close races Tuesday.

"If we get good turnout, Pat's going to win, Alexi's going to win. That's why turnout is so important. We've seen a lot of enthusiasm, but its going to be tight," the president said.

In last winter's primary, voters who took the Democratic Party ballot outnumbered those who voted Republican by 8 percent. The Democrats believe the higher the turnout, the better their chances.

"The early vote numbers have been terrific," said Giannoulias. "I think we're going to have a big turnout on Tuesday, and again, we're excited to have the president here to remind everyone what's at stake."

Republican Brady cancelled his Sunday appearance with the four other candidates for governor at WVAZ radio.

"Senator Brady didn't come to the NAACP forum, didn't come to the Urban League forum, didn't come to Operation PUSH, and now he's not here tonight," Quinn said.

"We had this event scheduled. We're here to rally our troops. That's traditionally what happens before election day," said Brady at the Republican rally.

As Brady spoke, a circus of sorts was under way outside Joe's Bar on Chicago's North Side. Libertarian candidate Mike Labno insisted he was a better conservative choice than Mark Kirk.

Some Labno supporters made their opinions known, as well.

"Mark Kirk has taken money from more mobsters than Democrats will ever know!" one person said on a bullhorn.

"He's not actually a fiscal hawk. He's really a fiscal pigeon," Labno said.

A Kirk supporter dressed up as a shark repeated allegations Giannoulias made loans to mobsters, and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky showed up to protest Kirk's secretly funded advertising, denying her appearance outside was an act of Democratic Party desperation.

"Absolutely not. We feel very confident at this point about Alexi's opportunity to win," said Schakowsky, a Democrat who represents Evanston.

The major party Senate and gubernatorial candidates will appear at campaign events around the state Monday, ending their nine-month campaigns at various locations in the Chicago area. That includes Senator Brady, who will end his campaign in Wheaton, DuPage County before he heads home to Bloomington.

When all the dollars are counted, this U.S. Senate and this gubernatorial campaign each will be the most expensive ever recorded in Illinois history.

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