The candidates in two high-stakes races — Illinois Comptroller and U.S. Senate — toured Chicago and the suburbs on Sunday in a final push to spread their messages ahead of Election Day.
Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger and her Democratic challenger Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza spent their Sunday in traditional get-out-the-vote style: visiting churches across Chicago.
Mendoza stopped by three churches, on the Southeast Side, Near West Side and South Side.
At the Union Missionary Baptist Church — where she was met by Secretary of State Jesse White — Mendoza told churchgoers she’s ready for the election to be over.
“I don’t remember in all my years in politics seeing such nastiness on TV,” Mendoza said of ads, both in her race and the presidential race.
Mendoza is trying to beat Munger in a race viewed as a proxy war between House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner appointed Munger following the death of Judy Baar Topinka.
Mendoza has claimed Munger isn’t “independent” based on her contributions from Rauner and billionaires Ken Griffin and Richard Uihlein. Munger spent her campaign calling Mendoza one of Madigan’s “proteges” and dubbing her a career Democratic politician.
Mendoza also tried to use Rauner’s unpopularity in her favor during her campaign. On Sunday, she told the congregation she questioned Munger’s ties to Rauner.
“Vote for a person who has a moral compass, who is not going to be checking with the very person who she is supposed to be a checks and balances to, the governor,” Mendoza said. “Governor Rauner, he’s been no friend of your community. He’s been no friend of my community.”
Mendoza detailed the big money in the comptroller race: Munger has a whopping $10 million in her war chest.
“Can you imagine what you can do with $10 million in a community like this?” Mendoza asked at the predominantly African-American church. “But they would rather spend it spreading slanderous, hateful and truthfully disgusting lies about me.”
Mendoza said the money shows they’re worried Munger may not keep her job. “I’m flattered, because who knew the governor and his two billionaire buddies are so afraid of a little 5-foot-3 Mexican running from Chicago, Susana Mendoza,” she said to cheers.”
Munger attended a full church service at Resurrected Life Church International on Sunday morning in the Northwest Side Hermosa neighborhood. She sat in the front row with her husband, singing along to songs and praying.
Munger told the church she’s honored to have been appointed comptroller, saying one of the greatest gifts of the post is “to serve people all across the state.”
“We know that the state has a lot of challenging financial issues these days, and it makes it very difficult to pay bills for a lot of organizations that serve people around the state. But we also know we learn from the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus taught us that if we serve those who are least among us, who are the most vulnerable, that we serve God by doing that,” Munger said. “And I have really tried to use my time as comptroller to prioritize payments to organization through the state that serve people most in need.”
From there, Munger visited the Grace Apostolic Church on the Southeast Side.
Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who is vying for Republican Senator Mark Kirk’s seat, visited churches in Maywood and Forest Park. From there, she joined Congressman Danny Davis and Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough and others for lunch at MacArthur’s in Chicago’s South Austin neighborhood.
Duckworth said she’s spending her last get-out-the-vote push in the Chicago area, where she is expected to perform well. A huge surge in early voting this year should fare well for Democrats in Chicago.
“We have put in a lot of energy and effort and it’s something that’s not just happening in the Senate race, but it’s also [faring well] for the state House and state Senate races,” Duckworth said.
But Duckworth said she’s not “leaving any stone unturned.”
“We take nothing for granted and we have phone banking everywhere,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth is among the top Democratic women on the Illinois ballot that includes Hillary Clinton, Mendoza and Cook County State’s attorney candidates Kim Foxx.
“I think it’s sending a powerful message around the world. I’m calling it the estrogen election because it’s all women,” Duckworth said. “The more diversity we have — not just in terms of gender but also racial backgrounds, religion identity — that will make us more cohesive as a nation and a stronger nation.”
Kirk spent his Sunday morning embarking on a 37-floor climb at the Willis Tower — the fourth time he’s done the climb. Kirk, who suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed, has fielded plenty of questions about his health during his Senate campaign, each time vowing he’s healthy enough to serve.
“I’m very honored to be here for my fourth stair climb. The last time I did this was 37 stories as a way to show an example to everybody in Illinois that might have suffered a stroke or severe health crisis,” Kirk said. “I want to make sure that people always understand that their best days are ahead of them.”
Kirk said the climb was to “make sure people realize I’m going to fight for them.”
“I’m going to die trying. I’m always in the fight for Illinois,” Kirk said. “Just because you had a stroke or a health reversal doesn’t mean it’s going to stop you at all. We’re the team that never stops fighting for Illinois.”
On what he’ll be doing the next few days before the election: “We’re going to be talking to as many people as we can — people that I work for — and make sure that we have a thoughtful independent senator in Washington.”
Before heading up the steps, Kirk stood from his wheelchair with a brace on his left leg and high-fived several supporters who were also embarking on the climb.