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Republicans Rally for Victory at State Fair
The Illinois State Fair Director's lawn served as the venue for both Governor's Day and the Republican Day rally.
The differences were quite striking.
While Governor's Day saw few elected officials and a fairly muted crowd, Republicans had close to twice as many attendees, and their event was filled with hand shaking, hugging, smiling, and general enthusiasm for next year.
"We need to be unified and come together in the primaries and in the general election, put forth the good candidates," Rep. Rodney Davis said. "Get the donors to back those candidates, volunteers on the ground, and we will see success because our vision for Illinois, and America, is a common sense vision."
Davis himself is facing a primary challenge from Erika Harold, and there's a large field of gubernatorial hopefuls.
So unity will require coming back together following likely tough primaries.
"It's always difficult because people invest a lot of time and emotion in it," Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno said. "But I think traditionally Republicans have been able to do that, and I think we've learned if we don't do it, we will lose. So we need to do that."
Former Gov. Jim Edgar knows something about winning statewide.
He said the GOP needs to show they are the big tent party.
"I think we've got to be a little bit more mainstream," Edgar said. "I think Mark Kirk won because of that. I think the perception hurt Bill Brady a little bit last time. But we don't have to be left of the Democrats and we don't have to be left of center."
It may be easier to keep the focus off of social issues than to get some candidates to move left on topics like same sex marriage.
"I think it means standing on our values but being willing to engage people," Erika Harold said. "I don't think it means changing the values, but being willing to have conversations with people who share those values."
A pension reform bill will likely pass before the election, meaning that issue may not benefit either party.
"I think at the end of the day the people benefit," senator and gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady said. "I don't think this will be paramount to our success. There's no question that all of Illinois has buyer's remorse over electing Pat Quinn. He's failed."
We also spoke to Brady about pension reform progress, since he's a member of the pension conference committee. He said the committee is hopeful they can begin drafting legislation next week.
Reporting at the Illinois State Fair, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.