By Duaa Eldeib and Monique Garcia
3:15 PM AKDT, October 27, 2012
The Democratic and Republican congressional contenders in two suburban districts looked to advance their ground games Saturday, using rallies and other events to encourage supporters to vote early and to get their friends and neighbors to join them.
In Arlington Heights, nearly 100 people attended a rally with Tammy Duckworth and Brad Schneider, two Democrats trying to knock off incumbent Republican freshmen.
“We know that we have enthusiasm, and the wind at our back, and we know that we have to keep on working and keep on fighting,” said Duckworth, who is challenging Rep. Joe Walsh. “Today is voting day. Tomorrow is voting day. It’s time to get your voices out there.”
Duckworth, making her second bid for Congress, is the frontrunner in the race for the northwest and west suburban 8th Congressional District against Walsh, a tea party conservative icon.
Duckworth, a disabled Iraq War veteran, stressed the importance of each vote, saying it was about preserving “the guarantees of Medicare and Social Security,” as well as ensuring that a lack of a “trust fund” doesn’t make college unattainable.
Walsh held an event in Addison Township, where about 100 volunteers gathered to grab campaign literature before walking suburban precincts.
He urged his backers to go the extra step, saying if there is one election that should inspire them to walk a little longer or speak to someone who disagrees, this is it.
"We have one election, maybe two, to save this country for our kids and our grandkids,” Walsh said as he appeared with Republican Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, who defeated Duckworth in 2006. Roskam said Illinois GOP victory centers are making 4 million phone calls.
Back in Arlington Heights, Schneider highlighted the critical role Illinois plays in Democrats’ hope to regain the House. Democrats need a net pickup of 25 seats nationally to take control of the chamber, a prospect that some veteran forecasters say appears doubtful.
But Schneider maintained that in his North Shore 10th Congressional District contest against first-term Republican Rep. Robert Dold, electing the Democrat is about more than just winning one seat.
“We need to make sure we take back the House,” said Schneider, eliciting applause from the crowd. Rep. Janice Schakowsky, an Evanston lawmaker who is a member of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team, also attended and said Dold “has been on the wrong side for the people of the district.”
Dold, meanwhile, launched a bus tour at his campaign headquarters in Highland Park. Maximizing turnout through early voting has been a campaign strategy from the start–and a pathway to ensuring victory, a Dold campaign spokesman said.
Even if voters turn out in droves to re-elect President Barack Obama, the home-state president, there’s a tradition of ticket splitting in the 10th District, Dold spokesman John McGovern said.
“Voters are very well-educated and tend to vote for the strongest candidate,” he said.
Even with the emphasis on early voting, only Schakowsky actually voted Saturday. She cast her ballot at Arlington Heights village hall, where early-voting lines snaked down two hallways.
Schneider said he planned to vote in the coming days and Duckworth said she will cast her ballot on election day, Nov. 6.