Governor Pat Quinn accused challenger Dan Hynes of stoking racial tensions Saturday, as new polling shows the race in a statistical dead heat.
The attack comes as a new Tribune/WGN poll gives Quinn only a 44-40 lead in the race, with 13 percent of voters undecided. With a four-point margin of error in the poll, this means the candidates are essentially tied. Additionally, sources close to Democratic senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias said that their internal polling shows Quinn at 46-44.
The race has been heating up in recent weeks, as both candidates have brought a little animus to their advertising with election day closing in.
Dan Hynes released a campaign ad featuring former Chicago mayor Harold Washington upbraiding Quinn for his failures as Washington's revenue director. In it, Washington calls hiring Quinn his "greatest mistake in government."
From the other side, Quinn attacked Hynes for his handling of the Burr Oak Cemetery crisis, over which his office had some administrative oversight during his tenure as comptroller.
Now, Quinn is claiming that Hynes is trying to "sow the seeds of racial divide" with his Washington ad. He went after Hynes on Friday at a predominantly black church on the South Side of Chicago, and again on Saturday at a meeting of the PUSH coalition.
"We will not let those who would divide go back to those ugly times," Quinn said. In recent days, he has repeatedly told black audiences that he stood by Mayor Washington during his campaign, while Hynes and his father challenged him. Washington was Chicago's first black mayor; Dan Hynes was 18 years old when his father ran against Washington.
It remains to be seen how this new wave of negativity will affect the race. The Tribune poll was released before the Washington ad hit the airwaves, and it could cut either way. Congressman Bobby Rush warned of a "backlash" as African-American voters take umbrage with Hynes's use of Washington as a mudslinger.
In any case, with this race as close as it is, expect it only to get uglier in the remaining days before ballots are cast.