GOP candidates readying for election night parties

2014-03-16T00:00:00Z GOP candidates readying for election night partiesKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
March 16, 2014 12:00 am  • 

SPRINGFIELD | On a typical election night, politicians host a get-together for campaign staff and supporters while they wait for the results to roll in.

Most of the time, they call these events "victory parties," expressing the hope the voters will bring a positive closure to months of hard work on the campaign trail.

Tables of food are set out. Drinks flow.

On Tuesday in Pontiac, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford will hold just such a party as he awaits the results of the four-way race for governor. But there is a twist: It's an invitation-only event with no members of the press corps allowed inside.

The closed-door party is an acknowledgment by the Republican candidate for governor that it is highly unlikely he will win his party's nomination for governor.

Although he wracked up more than 1.8 million votes in his 2010 bid for treasurer, Rutherford's campaign for the top office in Illinois politics went off the tracks in February when one of his employees filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

The 58-year-old former businessman and lawmaker has denied the accusations, but the charges and the subsequent media attention have put him in a distant fourth place according to most recent polling data.

His opponents in the GOP primary race are hosting more traditional election night events.

Bruce Rauner, the wealthy venture capitalist who has never run for political office, has rented out two ballrooms at the Hilton Towers in Chicago's South Loop for his "Election Night Celebration."

The doors open for the media at 3 p.m., hours before the polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Rauner, who has spent $6 million of his own fortune on the race, as well as out-raised his opponents by a wide margin, has been leading the polls in the final weeks of the campaign.

He is scheduled to spend the final days of the election criss-crossing the state with stops in the Quad-Cities, Marion, Bloomington and Decatur.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, is inviting his staff and supporters to election night festivities at a Downers Grove banquet hall. Dillard's stock rose late in the race when labor unions began funneling cash to him in a bid to knock out Rauner, who has spent months criticizing public employee unions.

State Sen. Bill Brady, meanwhile, will be in Bloomington on election night with his running mate, Maria Rodriguez.

Brady, the 2010 Republican nominee, has booked space at the Holiday Inn and Suites near the Central Illinois Regional Airport.

Brady also is planning a two-day, last-minute swing through the state before voters go to the polling places.

On the Democratic side of the primary, Gov. Pat Quinn will be at the Carpenter's union hall in Chicago on Tuesday night.

His opponent, former anti-violence program director Tio Hardiman, of Chicago, is hosting his election night event at his campaign headquarters in Maywood.

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