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The same poll gave Kirk the Republican primary lead with 43 percent and had real estate developer Patrick Hughes at 9 percent, several other candidates with less than 5 percent and 39 percent undecided.
Both Democrats and Republicans, however, emphasized that the Senate race has been significantly overshadowed by contentious gubernatorial primaries in both parties. Illinois voters and politicians appear to have a special interest in the gubernatorial race after disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was ejected from office last year because he allegedly tried to sell the vacant Senate seat, among other ethical charges.
The gubernatorial candidates in both parties have been sucking up airtime in Illinois, leaving little time or space for Congressional candidates to break through the noise. Jensen said polling showed that Illinois voters are far more familiar with the gubernatorial candidates.
I think theyre just getting drowned out, Jensen said. Its just one of those situations where theres just so much going on, those that are new to the political situation in Illinois ... it makes it hard to break through.
Its a similar case for the candidates running the competitive primaries for Kirks open House seat in the wealthy North Shore suburbs of Chicago. The district covers part of the expensive Chicago media market, where many of the gubernatorial candidates have dominated the airwaves.
In the Democratic primary, the 10th district nomination fight is between well-funded state Rep. Julie Hamos and marketing consultant Dan Seals, who has the benefit of name identification from his 2006 and 2008 bids against Kirk. Even though Seals did not run any television advertisements, he may still have the upper hand in the primary because of the short campaign season.
Three Republican candidates are looking to succeed Kirk: State Rep. Beth Coulson, and businessmen Dick Green and Bob Dold are contending for the GOP primary. Given that neither Green nor Dold have run before in the district, the race is difficult to predict.
Outside Chicago, two Republicans are vying for the nomination and the chance to challenge Rep. Bill Foster (D). Attorney Ethan Hastert, the son of former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), and state Sen. Randy Hultgren are running for the GOP nomination. Hastert, however, is expected to have the upper hand because of his fathers name identification.
The polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in Illinois, which is on Central Standard Time.