High-profile Dems to hit city to raise cash, boost Quinn

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WASHINGTON — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has a string of high-profile surrogates hitting Chicago for him in the coming days to raise funds and rally the Democratic base: both Obamas, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Hillary Rodham Clinton, new granddaughter permitting.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned more about President Barack Obama’s visit back home, when he arrives in Chicago on Wednesday night, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

On Thursday morning, Obama headlines a fundraiser for Quinn, who’s locked in a tight race with GOP nominee Bruce Rauner. The funder, as of Monday night, was to be at the Gold Coast home of attorney Meredith A. Bluhm-Wolf, the daughter of Chicago business honcho and Walton Street Capital founder Neil Bluhm.

After that, Obama zips to Evanston for a speech at Northwestern University.

The topic is tentatively about the economy, but that could change. In 2013, Neil Bluhm, a Northwestern law school alum, donated $25 million to Northwestern.

Now, back to surrogates.

Illinois has plenty of Democrats, who — if they voted — would be for Quinn. The challenge for the Quinn campaign is to identify these folks and get them to vote — whether by mail or in person.

I’ve already reported that first lady Michelle Obama hits Chicago on Oct. 7 for Quinn and she will focus on turnout. In Milwaukee on Monday for Wisconsin governor candidate Mary Burke, she invoked what now is a standard line in her get-out-the-vote stump speech: “When we stay home, they win.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, considering a 2016 run, is penciled in for Oct. 8. She was raised in Park Ridge, and there is a thought of using her for a north suburban event. But her schedule could change after Friday’s birth of granddaughter Charlotte. Former President Bill Clinton also is in the Quinn pipeline.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and well-known among high-end Chicago Democratic donors, headlines a fundraiser for Quinn in Chicago on Wednesday evening described on the invitation as “an intimate dinner.” The ask for this funder is $10,000.

The McAuliffe funder hosts are Kevin Conlon, Raj Fernando, Kevin O’Keefe, David Rosen, Rob Stein and Thad Wong. The dinner is at the home of Rob and Eileen Stein.

Last week, Gloria Steinem, a Democratic activist, author and one of the most famous feminists in the nation, was scheduled to come to Chicago for Quinn but never arrived in the wake of the ground stop at the Chicago airports after a fire was set by an FAA contractor at the Aurora traffic control facility.

Rauner has gotten a recent boost from visits from two potential 2016 contenders, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chair of the Republican Governors Association.

Rauner is hard-pressed to find other suitable Republican superstar surrogates on deck to come to Illinois and rally his target voters.

Sarah Palin and the two GOP senators whose stock is rising — Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, both potential 2016 candidates — can excite the GOP right.

But Rauner needs massive support from independents, swing voters and the moderate GOP voters in the Chicago suburbs — especially women — and bringing the stars of last week’s Value Voters Summit here would be counterproductive for Rauner.

So would former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is well-liked by the Illinois GOP establishment. But Romney would just drive a toxic narrative for Rauner: How mega-rich investors who buy and sell companies are trying to just be like you and me.

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