Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Beyond Governor Race, Big Stakes in Illinois Vote

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Beyond Governor Race, Big Stakes in Illinois Vote

Article excerpt

CHICAGO * Anyone in Illinois who has turned on a television in recent weeks knows the race for governor is shaping up as a no- holds-barred, no-expenses-spared slugfest. While the contest between Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner could be one of the hardest fought and closely watched races in the nation, there's plenty more at stake up and down the Nov. 4 ballot. As the campaign heats up after Labor Day, here are five things to watch for as the election nears:

WILL GOP LEAVE DEMOCRATS RED-FACED?

National Republicans see Illinois and a vulnerable Quinn as a prime opportunity to pick up a governorship in one of the Midwest's last remaining Democratic strongholds. The added bonus, they say, is that winning the top job in President Barack Obama's home state would send a strong message that voters are rejecting Democrats' agenda. Both parties and their allies are funneling millions into the race, as Democrats try to paint Rauner as an out-of-touch multimillionaire and Republicans blame Quinn for Illinois' lagging economy and ongoing political controversies.

BATTLEGROUND COOK COUNTY

Both sides say Cook County will be the key battleground and are sending in foot soldiers to saturate Chicago and its inner suburbs to secure votes. Why? Look no further than the 2010 election. Quinn defeated Republican state Sen. Bill Brady by just under 32,000 votes, despite winning only four of Illinois' 102 counties. But he won big in Cook taking 64 percent, or about 500,000 more votes than Brady. This time, Quinn knows he has to do as well or better. But Rauner is aggressively courting Cook County voters, including the area's large minority populations.

DAIRY MAGNATE VS. SENATE'S NO. 2

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, faces a challenge from state Sen. Jim Oberweis, who is familiar to voters because of a chain of dairies that bear his family name and a string of failed runs for office before securing his statehouse seat. …

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