CHICAGO – Candidates for Illinois governor hoped to play in Peoria — and the rest of the state — as they hopped in planes Monday to woo voters with hours left before the primary.
All three Republicans and two of the three Democrats on Tuesday's ballot made their final campaign pushes from the air, jumping between rallies in the state's most populous cities. Democrat Paul Vallas cruised around the Chicago area in his campaign bus.
U.S. Rep. Rod Blagojevich told supporters in Springfield that any Democrat who hopes to win in November must have support outside of Chicago and its suburbs. Democrats last held the Illinois governor's seat in 1976.
"We've had 25 years of the same people calling the shots, 25 years of leaders who sit back and hope things get better, 25 years of a way of doing business that accepts mediocrity," Blagojevich said.
Attorney General Jim Ryan, the Republican front runner, flew into Springfield soon after Blagojevich and told GOP voters their party is "at a crossroads."
Ryan stressed that a legislative map Democrats drew this year could put Republicans in the minority in both the Illinois House and Senate.
"We have our work cut out for us," Ryan said. "We have to elect a Republican governor."
Incumbent GOP Gov. George Ryan, weakened by a continuing federal investigation of the trading of Illinois drivers licenses for bribes when he was secretary of state, is not running again.
Candidates toned down the negative rhetoric in the final day of the campaign, instead focusing on getting out the vote.
Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood continued to encourage Democrats and independent voters to pull a Republican ballot and vote for her. Wood has run as a moderate and focused on her support for abortion rights. Both Ryan and the third Republican in the race, state Sen. Patrick O'Malley, oppose abortion.
"Tomorrow all the voters of Illinois have a chance to join me and make history," Wood said in Chicago before she started her tour through central Illinois.
Wood, O'Malley and Blagojevich all were in Peoria during the lunch hour, while Democrat Roland Burris stopped by later in the afternoon. Burris took the opposite route of the other candidates, starting in southern Illinois and making his way back to Chicago.
All six candidates will be in Chicago for election night.