CHICAGO — From restaurants to airports, the candidates for Illinois governor made a frenzy of statewide campaign stops Monday in a final appeal to voters in one of the nation's most competitive gubernatorial matchups.
Both Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner greeted the Chicago breakfast crowd before launching plane tours and evening rallies ahead of Tuesday's election, which also features a U.S. Senate race, hotly contested congressional matchups and five ballot measures.
Top Republicans and Democrats appearing alongside Rauner and Quinn urged voters to head for the polls, noting that some areas have already reported strong early voting turnout during the usually ho-hum midterm elections. Local election officials, meanwhile, were double-checking ballot-counting procedures against a recent state attorney general opinion that raised fears of delays.
Appearing at a rally at a Chicago campaign office with nearly every major Democrat on the ballot, Quinn focused on his push to raise the minimum wage, recent jobs-related announcements and the drop in unemployment during his tenure.
"It's very, very important that we keep our momentum," said Quinn, who's seeking a second full term. He deemed Tuesday's contest "a stark choice between our side that believes in investing in everyday people" and an out-of-touch multimillionaire candidate — a reference to Rauner.
But Rauner, a venture capitalist from the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, said Illinois could do better. He traveled throughout the day with former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar, a downstate native, and repeated his vow to clean up Springfield and use his business background to help fix Illinois' fiscal woes.
"A big change in direction is coming," Rauner told a crowd gathered near the state Capitol in Springfield. "We're coming to work for you."
Rauner's fly-around included visits to Bloomington, Moline, Rockford, Sugar Grove and Lincolnshire. Quinn traveled most of the day with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, and the itinerary featured stops in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Savoy, Marion, East St. Louis and Springfield.
The race has included intense efforts to draw voters to the polls and pursue a range of ballot "integrity" measures.
Local election authorities were trying to clarify a recent legal opinion by Attorney General Lisa Madigan that said state law bars counting ballots before poll-closing at 7 p.m. Some county clerks said waiting to begin processing several thousand mailed votes would delay reporting results by hours and possibly days.
Madigan told The Associated Press on Monday that local officials would have to determine their own best route to take — as long as they don't count votes early.
"I know different jurisdictions have difference processes," she said after a Quinn rally in Chicago. "They're going to have to be working with their local states attorneys to see what they can do."
Officials from two of the state's biggest elections jurisdictions, the city of Chicago and suburban Cook County, said they felt confident that their usual practice — preparing ballots ahead of poll-closing time but not actually counting and posting them — was within the law.
Tuesday's election also includes five ballot measures. Two seek to change the state's constitution with questions on the rights of voters and crime victims. The others are non-binding and deal with paying for birth control, raising the minimum wage and taxing the state's millionaires.
Burnett reported from cities statewide. Associated Press writers John O'Connor in Springfield and Kerry Lester in Chicago contributed to this report.