For all the tosses and turns some rides provide at the Illinois State Fair, perhaps none compare to the display of Illinois state politics.
Mixed in with the food trucks and trinket stands, Democrats and Republicans have booths set up to tell voters about their candidates and to support them. The stations are just the entry point, however, to the parties' respective days of celebrations.
With less than seven weeks until Election Day, Gov. JB Pritzker and fellow Democrats will have their day on Wednesday to promote their post-midterm vision. The day starts with the Illinois Democratic County Chairs brunch, held at the Bank of Springfield Center at 9 a.m., with special guest U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colorado.
The first-term governor has the support of Steve Walker of East Peoria, a self-described moderate, who visited the Pritzker booth on Monday.
"He has us in the black after many years of challenges," Walker said, who has supported Republican candidates in the past. Come November, he plans on voting for Pritzker and wishes him to continue the progress in a second term.
Other fairgoers were not as thrilled by the prospect of four more years with Pritzker. Kathi and Ron Vieregge of Litchfield will cast their votes for gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia.
"We're heading downhill fast," said Kathi Vierggee of Pritzker and President Joe Biden.
Governor's Day comes as inflation rates hit or nearly reach record levels, which has some expecting Republicans to gain seats in Springfield and battleground districts in Washington. Congressional races in Illinois' 17 districts, however, are not expected to be overly competitive, according to FiveThirtyEight, where the Democrats are expected to carry 14 districts.
Democrats nationally losing Congressional seats in November would not be a historical outlier, but rather quite common for the presidential party said Bill Houlihan, chair of the Sangamon County Democrats. Only three times in U.S. history has a first-term president not lost party members on Capitol Hill - most recently with President George W. Bush gaining Republican members in 2002.
Houlihan, however, is confident that President Joe Biden could fend off a red wave.
"The Democrats have a lot of good things to run on," he said in a Monday interview, detailing the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and bipartisan gun legislation among several other accomplishments.
At the state level, Houlihan joined fellow Democratic Central Committee members late last month in voting for state Rep. Lisa Hernandez of Cicero to serve as the Democratic Party of Illinois chairperson replacing U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, of Illinois 2nd District. What first appeared to be a party split, Pritzker backing Hernandez and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin supporting Kelly, became less contentious after Kelly stepped down prior to election day on July 30.
Collaboration among the party and getting the word out to all 102 counties has remained a priority for the new chair, Houlihan said. It is what he thinks is necessary to carry Pritzker, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and the General Assembly majorities in place.
"The battlegrounds, oftentimes, are the bigger pockets down the state," he said, Democrat majorities carrying and growing in Chicago and the collar counties. "That's where we have to do our work."
Sangamon County Republican Chair Dianne Barghouti sees economic trends, but also crime and anti-abortion advocacy as a way pathway for her party's success come November. Illinois has become almost a Midwest island when it comes to abortion, as Indiana's near-complete ban goes into effect next month.
Unifying the party base, both the more conservative and moderates and a strong turnout are the GOP recipe for success she said.
"If you are concerned about your city, town, or state, or country, you need to help support the efforts that will make a difference," she said. "We can't afford to be RINOs (Republicans in Name Only)."
The GOP Day is set for Thursday, an event where Bailey, party chairman Don Tracy, U.S. Senate candidate Kathi Salvi, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie are scheduled to speak.
Yet, in the backdrop of the day is the recent FBI raid of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence where it has been alleged that he took classified documents from the White House.
Already during the 2021 Republican Day, there were minimal mentions of Trump - only once during the rally - but he could see more air time due to the former president's endorsement of Bailey.
When asked whether the gubernatorial candidate should continue siding with Trump, Barghouti said it was the candidate's decision to make. The county GOP has endorsed Bailey for governor.
November is just the springboard to the 2023 legislative session, where both county party chairs wish to see elected officials carry the agenda. For Democrats, Houlihan said that means continuing building the state's rainy day fund which recently topped $1 billion following a $180 million investment.
"We're in the best fiscal shape we have been in years," he said. "Thanks to Gov. Pritzker, Comptroller Mendoza, and the General Assembly, we've had six upgrades in our bond market - over a half-billion dollars that would be going for bond fees are going to be staying in Illinois."
Whether it be the veto session later in November and December, Barghouti said the GOP needs to address no cash bail which she thinks hurts efforts in crime control. Pritzker signed the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act, or SAFE-T Act, in February 2021, which is set to go into effect statewide on Jan. 1.
"As people see the effects of that on their personal lives, I think they're not going to be so fond of it," she said, joining criticism with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, who also endorsed Bailey.
The Republican's route to the governorship is met with him trailing in the most-recent polling conducted by Victory Research. That July poll has Pritzker with 49% of the polling sample support, while Bailey has 39%.
Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, email@example.com, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Democrats, GOP look to Illinois State Fair to attract 2022 voters