Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Waiting Game Begins for Candidates

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With polls around Illinois now closed, the waiting game begins as Decision 2010 marches toward a close.

    Candidate supporters gathered at their respective campaign headquarters throughout the state.

    "I'm guardingly optimistic," said a spokesman for Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign at the Allegro Hotel in downtown Chicago.

    "Everyone is really excited.  We're busy in our campaign war room, looking at all the numbers and we're feeling really good.  We're seeing what we saw in our internal polls ... that this race is tight and it's really going to come down to turnout in the end," said Quinn campaign Communications Director Mica Matsoff.

    Several politicians were on hand at Quinn headquarters, including state Sen. Emil Jones, new Cook County Commisioner John Fritchey, state Reps. Greg Harris and Will Burns, Ald. Manny Flores and Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico.

    Perhaps more confident are those gathered at Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady's campaign at the Doubletree Hotel in downstate Bloomington. 

    In fact, Brady earlier in the day was exuding the kind of confidence normally not seen from a candidate on Election Night. 

    "We've hit the barometers we wanted to hit, all the benchmarks.  But we're still churning the vote to make sure our voters get out today.  We're not over-confident.  We just believe we've been doing the right thing and the people of Illinois are ready for change," Sen. Brady said moments before sequestering himself to watch the returns. 

    Brady and his family arrived at the hotel just before 9 p.m. and watched the returns from a room on the hotel's fifth floor.  The ballroom was full of supporters.  Others gathered in the lobby.  Many of them were wearing red sweaters and ties.

    Independent candidate Scott Lee Cohen, whose headquarters were at Chicago's Palmer House Hilton, said he was "very optimistic... very excited," and said there was a "tremendous amount of support out there" for his campaign.

    Cohen said those with whom he'd spoken around the state expressed frustration with the two main parties and their candidates.  He pointed to the lack of invitations he'd received to several debates and appearances with the other candidates.

    "I believe that what it did was that it turned the people off so bad that it backfired on them and caused them to come out and vote for me," said Cohen.

    The other big race of the day is over President Barack Obama's former Illinois Senate seat.

    At Rep. Mark Kirk's headquarters, the mood was described as "comfortable," with his staff saying that returns in the city of Chicago were even better than they'd expected.

    State Sen. Christine Radogno, on hand at the Kirk party, was confident that Republicans would make gains nationwide and in the state.

    "There's a lot of activity in the Illinois Legislature.  [House Minority Leader] Tom Cross has the potential to unseat the Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan.  We need eight seats in the Senate in order to take the gavel from the Democrats in that chamber, as well.  So we have a lot at stake all across the state and of course there's the governor's race," said Radogno. 

    "So far so good," was the message from Democrat Alexi Giannoulias' headquarters.  "In most pre-election polls in the city of Chicago, we were running in the low- to mid-60s, so to be getting mid- to high-70s (on initial returns), something happened here," said Democratic strategist Pete Giancreco.

    Sen. Dick Durbin was on-hand, ready to welcome his junior senator if the returns go that way.  Giannoulias was watching returns with his family in an upstairs room.

    In Illinois' 10th Congressional District, hopeful Dan Seals was making his third attempt in a race against Kenilworth businessman Robert Dold.

    At his headquarters in Deerfield, the candidate was no where to be seen, but supporters were gathered and were being updated on results by campaign communications director Aviva Gibbs.

    "We've seen a lot of crossover support and a lot of endorsements that went to Mark Kirk in the past have actually come over to our campaign," Seals said earlier in the day.

    Things were very quiet at Attorney General Lisa Madigan's headquarters, which was also located at the Palmer House.  About two dozen people were in the room at about 8 p.m.  There was no sign of the attorney general or her father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  A spokesperson said Lisa Madigan isn't expected to appear publicly until it's time for her speech.