Candidates in three closely contested suburban congressional races used the final Saturday of their campaigns to rally the faithful and make a late pitch to undecided voters.
In the west and southwest suburban 11th District, Democrat Bill Foster dug into his own pockets for a six-figure loan to air last-minute TV ads, according to a source familiar with the decision. Foster and Republican Rep. Judy Biggert have hurled the term “millionaire” accusingly at each other.Foster, a millionaire scientist and businessman from Naperville, said he didn’t want to be “outgunned” by Biggert and her allies on TV.
“We made a strategic decision that we don’t want to have the falsehoods that they’re putting up on television unanswered, so we’re making an additional television purchase, which requires a loan to the campaign,” Foster said. “The race is very tight and the stakes are very high.”
Biggert said she was not worried that Foster’s infusion of cash would make the difference in the race.
“Foster's decision to self-fund is also unsurprising, given that he's on the verge of being rejected by the voters once again,” said Biggert spokesman Gill Stevens.
On Saturday, Biggert gathered 100 volunteers in her downtown Naperville campaign headquarters.
“They thought that I wouldn’t run, but I’m a stubborn Swede,” Biggert said. “I’ve never had a race like this, that has been so bitter and so negative, but they didn’t expect to have a race here, drawing the district for a Democrat. Wrong. We are going to win.”
In the North Shore 10th District, Republican Rep. Robert Dold called in help from two freshman colleagues unburdened by competitive races —Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Manteno and Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Kansas congressman best known nationally for an incident in which he skinny dipped in Israel’s Sea of Galilee.
Policy on Israel has been a touchstone of the 10th District campaign, and Kinzinger took the microphone and praised Dold for his support for the country’s security efforts. Kinzinger also decried “big, bloated, bureaucratic government” and described Dold as a “phenomenal, great American.”
Down the road at a United Auto Workers hall in Lincolnshire, Democratic challenger Brad Schneider addressed a group of about two dozen staffers and volunteers gathered to pick up materials and take instructions before departing to knock on doors.
“We are 79 and ½ hours away,” he said, looking at his watch. “I really feel like you guys are carrying me and my feet aren’t touching the ground.”
In the northwest and west suburban 8th District, freshman Republican Rep. Joe Walsh gave a pep talk to about 150 supporters who gathered outside his Schaumburg campaign office before a day of door knocking in his re-election bid against Democrat Tammy Duckworth.
“We've got smart people here, we've got media here and they look at all these polls and scientific stuff but they don't measure this. They cannot measure, they cannot measure passion. They cannot measure determination,” Walsh said. He said Duckworth and her Democratic backers are “scared to death” because they know they are “in the fight of their lives.”
At a multicultural event at the Streamwood library, Duckworth clapped along with the audience as they watched a troupe of children wearing traditional Colombian dress dance to festive music. As Duckworth made her way through the crowd of about 150, she shook hands with attendees, praising the children’s performance and thanking voters.
Asked about Walsh’s comment that she was “scared,” Duckworth laughed.
“Do I look scared?” asked Duckworth, a disabled Iraq War veteran. “I’ve been scared in my life, but I ain’t ever been scared of Joe Walsh.”
Saturday marked the end of the early voting period in Illinois. In Chicago, Board of Elections officials estimated more than 240,000 early ballots would be cast — nearly as many as four years ago even though the early voting period was four days shorter this year than 2008.
Tribune reporters Duaa Eldeib, Monique Garcia and Rick Pearson contributed.