All-Star Panel: Previewing the big Midwestern races

Chicago-area journalist panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 22, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: In state after state, all our friends in the other party are doing just relentlessly attacking the president.  And acting like this is a referendum on that. It's not. It's about you and your future.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R - NEW JERSEY: There is no more important challenge a race to me personally in America than Bruce Rauner's challenge to Pat Quinn and the things he is offering for the people of Illinois.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, this is a tight race for governor here in Illinois as you take a look at the Real Clear Politics average of polls and you just heard from some of the big outsiders coming in to campaign for both sides. You have Pat Quinn holding on to a slight lead over Bruce Rauner, and that has changed in recent weeks. A look at this race and another one just up the road. We're back in Chicago with our special panel, Mike Flannery, political editor of Chicago FOX 32 News, and Carol Felsenthal, contributing editor and political blogger for Chicago Magazine. Thank you both for being here. We should point out, Mike, that there is another candidate that that's not in that poll.

MICHAEL FLANNERY, POLITICAL EDITOR, CHICAGO FOX 32 NEWS: There is a libertarian candidate actually on the ballot here, Bret, who is getting three, four, six percent maybe. And it's worth pointing out that Pat Quinn got elected four years ago with only 46 percent of the vote. So he was a minority governor back then. And that's likely to happen again as close as things are. But Chad Grimm, the libertarian candidate, could end up being for Bruce Rauner the "hanging Chad" perhaps…



BAIER: Right. Carol, boy you look at a race that should be in the Republicans favor and the economy and the economic situation and the upside down approval ratings. This should be it.

FELSENTHAL: Well, except that it is a very blue state. And if you would have asked me, I wrote a long profile of Bruce Rauner, and I was writing it in May and June people were asking, is Rauner going to win. I said he is going to win in a rout. And now we have this race that's neck and neck.  And Chad Grimm who sat in my house with me when I interviewed him, if he polls as much as six percent he could make the difference.

BAIER: In this race.

FELSENTHAL: And, in 2010 Quinn won by I think about 32,000 votes.

BAIER: Today you had the vice president here. President Obama has been here, other big names for Quinn.

FLANNERY: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton.

BAIER: Is that moving the needle?

FLANNERY: I don't think it's moving the needle a lot, but I think what it's doing, look, this is a turnout election at this point as it is so much around the country, Bret, and those big time Democratic names are all about getting the hardcore Democrats to vote. There is concern among Democratic leaders here that as elsewhere around the country a lot of Democrats aren't engaged. You know, Pat Quinn's job approval rating is one of the lowest for any governor in the country. And so part of the challenge for the Democrats is to get their voters out.

BAIER: Just go up the road to the Wisconsin race real quick. Scott Walker, Mary Burke, also very tight as you look at the Real Clear Politics of average of polls there and Walker trying to hold on to the win up there.

FELSENTHAL: Right. And Walker was ahead and now they are running even.  And it's interesting as you look at that race and look at the Illinois race. The candidates couldn't be more different. You have Scott Walker, who never graduated from college. You have Burke who is an heiress to a fortune. That's not true of Bruce Rauner, but Bruce Rauner is worth probably close to $1 billion, and Pat Quinn wears the same tie every time you see him. So there's an interesting analogy. And they are running very closer.

Maybe, and just to say one more thing about Illinois. Rauner has been working very hard to get the African-American vote in Chicago to come out and vote for him. He spent a lot of time every Sunday, lots of effort. 

BAIER: Carol, Mike, as always, thank you very much.

FLANNERY: Thank you. It's always fun.

BAIER: It should be interesting. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for a very special final goodbye.

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