CHICAGO--Illinois Republicans, giddy about their 2010 prospects to grab the Senate and governor seats from Democrats are holding a unity breakfast here underscored by the slogan "Illinois Is Next," a reference to GOP wins in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey.
"Welcome to the most important race of 2010 in the United States of America," said GOP Senate nominee, Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) who waltzed through an easy primary victory. Kirk will face a bruising Senate fight with the Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias, the state treasurer, who prevailed in a three-way battle.
Illinois right now is in Democratic control--governor, both senators, the Illinois General Assembly--and breaking one party rule will be a Kirk theme. "One party in Illinois should not have all the power," Kirk said.
Picking up where David Hoffman, Giannoulias main rival left off, Kirk attack Giannoulias for his ties to the family owned troubled Broadway Bank in Chicago and his management of the Bright Star college savings program.
Looking over a crowded ballroom at the Union League Club here, Pat Brady, the chairman of the Republican Party of Illinois said, "The Republican Party is alive and well in Illinois."
He added, "Yes we will, we will win back the Barack Obama Senate seat."Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chair of the Republican Governors Association and the former chair of the Republican National Committee.
"We're in for a big year in Illinois if we work together," Barbour said.
The GOP ticket in Illinois is not finalized yet. The governor primary is a photo finish between two state senators, Kirk Dillard and
PatBill Brady. Brady and Dillard were both at the head table at the unity event.
The Democrats did not have any unity events planned. The Democrat governor primary also ended up almost in a tie. Gov. Pat Quinn declared himself the victor, but Comptroller Dan Hynes has yet to concede.