By Jennifer Wessner Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD–With exactly a week to go before Election Day, leaders of both political parties of the Illinois General Assembly said they expect Tuesday night’s votes to break their way.
After months of planning and preparation, voters are finally headed to the voting booth on Nov. 2. Lawmakers in Illinois say they are comfortable with how the race has played out so far.
Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said she thinks Tuesday is going to be a victory for Republicans.
"It seems if you are to believe all the pollsters and the pundits and actually all the chatter on the street as well, I think that it probably will be a year that has about a normal turnout, but it does seem that it will be probably leaning Republican," Radogno said.
But Steve Brown, spokesman for Illinois Democratic Chairman and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said he thinks much of the hype for Republicans is unfounded.
"I've thought for months that this is going to be a competitive election, and up and down the ballot I think Democrats are doing well,” Brown said. “I think all the research confirms that and I think the so-called energy gap that Republicans and other's have talked about it really all but evaporated in Illinois."
The competitive nature of this election cycle has seen many traditionally safe districts come up for grabs.
Radogno said Senate Republicans are hoping to pick up seats that they never thought would come into play.
"I think we have found seats that are competitive now that we didn't typically think would be because of the demographics or voting history of an area," Radogno said. "And what's happened is there's just been such an outpouring of dissatisfaction with the current governance of the state that people are looking for a change."
Conversely, even in this seemly Republican year, Brown said he has seen a few races come into reach for Democrats that were seen as impossible this summer.
Neither Brown nor Radogno were willing to outline specific races they hope to pick up. Brown said it's simply not good strategy to show your hand before the cards are played.
Both Republican and Democratic fundraising efforts have contributed to the expanded field of competitive races.
Brown said Republicans have benefited from the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows private corporations to make campaign donations.
“The kind of unprecedented amount of anonymous money that's flooding into Illinois, I think a good field operation is going to counteract that,” Brown said. "I think it was anticipated because the Supreme Court took the lid off these private corporate donations. We anticipated there would be some of that, but there appears to be more than anybody could imagine."
But Radogno said Republican fundraising efforts have been successful not because of some upper hand in corporate donations, but because voters are leaning their way.
“The Senate Republicans have done pretty well, but our numbers are not wildly outside of what the norm is," Radogno said. "We're pretty much on budget than what we expected. I don't think we've seen a lot of anonymous money at all. We've worked hard for every dollar, but people are willing to invest because they want to see change."
Brown said Democrats are holding their own in the face of what he sees as an extraordinary fundraising season for Republicans.
"We have got to cope with that (anonymous money). I think they're (Democrats) coping pretty well,” Brown said. “The final test will be on Tuesday."