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'Nasty' campaigning comes to a close: Governor's race up for grabs

By Ann Knef | Feb 1, 2010

A depiction of Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard as an "Obama twin" is making the email rounds. No campaign is claiming responsibility for the piece.

On the eve of the Illinois primary election, voter opinion in the Metro-East shows a lack of consensus in the race for governor, according to a random survey taken today.

It's particularly murky on the Republican side of things.

State Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Greenville) has endorsed Bill Brady, state senator from Bloomington, for governor.

But State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) said he is not endorsing a particular candidate, though he hopes a conservative candidate will survive the primary to go on to the general election.

"We need so badly a conservative Republican in the general election," McCarter said. "Illinois cannot afford an old school rhino politician as governor if we are going to implement the system changes required to reverse the trend of bankruptcy and corruption we are now suffering from."

Shiloh Mayor Jim Vernier is pulling for Adam Andrzejewski, a businessman from Hinsdale. He and Chicago businessman Dan Proft are considered the two most conservative candidates in the race.

Al Adomite, Troy alderman and vice president of the Illinois Civil Justice League, says he favors Kirk Dillard for governor, a state senator from Westmont.

Dillard has received widespread criticism for having appeared in a television commercial for Barack Obama during his presidential campaign in 2008.

An article in today's, "Angry voters eye Illinois primaries," sizes up the fierce battles being waged on both sides.

The article points to an ad campaign launched by Republican candidate for governor, Andy McKenna – former Illinois GOP chairman, who hammers Dillard.

"In a Republican primary, if you're in an ad supporting Barack Obama for president, that's something that's very, very unpopular with the base. Even if you're in Illinois, that's very unpopular," said adman Brian Nick who works for McKenna.

Meanwhile, former attorney general and candidate Jim Ryan is hammering McKenna over transparency.

On the Democratic side of the ticket, prominent plaintiffs' attorneys Tom Keefe of Swansea and John Hopkins of Edwardsville favor different candidates.

Hopkins is pulling for Dan Hynes, state comptroller, who has waged an uphill battle against sitting Gov. Pat Quinn.

"I have been friends with Dan for over six years and I was for him when he was behind in the polls some 30 points," Hopkins said. "Now that he has pulled up even with Gov. Quinn, I am very proud of his campaign and cautiously optimistic."

But Keefe countered that he was "strongly" in favor Quinn.

"First, he is a good a decent man who has stepped forward with the courage to tell us all we need a tax increase to fund a terrible deficit," Keefe said. "Second, he has done a respectable job under extraordinarily difficult conditions he inherited both from Blago and George Ryan. We are broke. Third, he is honest and deserves a chance to finish a job he has forced into."

Keefe also said Hynes has run an "an incredibly nasty" campaign against an incumbent governor, and by doing so has wasted "tons of money" which could have been better spent.

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Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-54th)