The complexities of a special primary contest to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress gave way the final weekend before the election to more traditional campaigning as candidates Sunday visited churches and restaurants in search of votes.
The three top contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District — Robin Kelly, Debbie Halvorson and Anthony Beale — each displayed optimism that they would cross the finish line first after the voting is finished on Tuesday.
Beale, Chicago's 9th Ward alderman, spent much of Sunday visiting churches, which has long been a political staple in the district.
"Nobody else in this race can say that they have the record that I have. I'm talking about what I've done, ladies and gentlemen," Beale told about 200 people gathered at Logos Baptist Assembly near 108th and South Halsted streets as some shouted their approval. "I've already walked the walk. I'm not just talkin' that talk!"
Beale highlighted a list of accomplishments he'd achieved as alderman. The alderman also told potential supporters that they knew better than to follow the more than $2 million worth of TV ads a super PAC run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dumped into the contest, most recently backing Kelly.
Beale had seven restaurants, four churches, a synagogue and a shopping mall on his schedule. Kelly, a former state lawmaker from Matteson, visited churches, but her only public appearance was scheduled this afternoon at a restaurant in her hometown.
Halvorson's only public appearance was before a few dozen diners Sunday afternoon at Ted's Family Restaurant in Calumet City. One woman handed Halvorson a prayer card. "Thank you, I need all the prayers I can get," Halvorson replied.
The former one-term congresswoman from Crete has had to battle a TV ad blitz by a super political action committee run by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacking her support of an assault weapons ban.
"The first thing out of people's mouth is, 'We're voting for you. We're sick of those commercials. We don't want a mayor from New York coming in and trying to buy a seat in Congress,' " Halvorson said.
Kelly's voice was hoarse as she talked to diners at Peachtree Cafe in her hometown.
"You know what? I feel good but I'm taking nothing for granted," said Kelly, a former state lawmaker, after working the tables for votes. "I wouldn't be in it if I didn't think I could win."
Benefiting from the big TV buy from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super political action committee, several diners told Kelly they recognized her.
"I'm just going to stay encouraged," she said. "People all over the place are encouraging me so that helps a lot, praying for me and sending me little voice mails, emails and texts to keep focused and stay strong."