CHICAGO (AP) – From St. Patrick’s Day parades to statewide tours by plane, the candidates running for Illinois governor made their final appeals to voters ahead of this week’s primary election.
Three of the four Republicans – businessman Bruce Rauner and state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady – were making last-minute rounds by plane and bus Sunday to drum up participation for what’s traditionally a low-turnout election. The primary is Tuesday. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Chicago, Democrat is seeking re-election.
Dillard kicked off his 2-day fly-around Sunday in Chicago with his onetime boss: Former Gov. Jim Edgar. Dillard was once Edgar’s chief of staff.
“We can’t afford a governor who has to learn on the job,” Edgar said.
The comments were a reference to Rauner. The Winnetka venture capitalist, leading in the polls and fundraising, is seeking public office for the first time. Dillard, of Hinsdale, called on voters to “save the state” by pulling a GOP ballot on Tuesday. He had stops planned Sunday in Rockford, Peoria, Quincy and Springfield.
Rauner – in the midst of a similar statewide tour – had plans to “crisscross the state” through today. He had visits scheduled by plane and bus on Sunday to Quincy, Decatur and Champaign.
“To beat Pat Quinn, you have to do well in every corner of the state,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.
State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington made an appearance Sunday at Chicago’s South Side Irish Parade on Sunday before embarking on his own tour with stops Sunday in Moline and Rockford, along with a town hall meeting on Facebook.
Quinn, seeking a second full term, also appeared at Sunday’s parade, as did his lesser-known Democratic challenger Tio Hardiman. The governor, a Chicago Democrat, hasn’t been campaigning much and has also kept a low public profile on official business. His challenger hasn’t raised much money and doesn’t have statewide name recognition.
Hardiman of Hillside said he met more than 1,000 people at Sunday’s event, which comes a day after a downtown parade where the Chicago River is dyed green. Quinn, who has refused to debate his challenger, said last week that his approach to the campaign has just been to do his job.
Meanwhile, Republican state Treasurer Dan Rutherford took a lower key approach by hitting the phones.
“He’s doing a series of targeted personal phone calls and personal calls with the top supporters,” spokesman Brian Sterling said.
Rutherford has recently avoided the spotlight, a change for the Chenoa Republican who’s had an active social media presence and not been camera-shy. He announced last week that reporters won’t be allowed to his Election night party, saying he’ll instead deliver a statement at a different location in Pontiac just after the polls close.
Last week, during the final televised GOP candidate debate, Rutherford said the last 6 weeks of his campaign have been “pretty rough.” A former employee filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and political coercion. Rutherford has denied wrongdoing.