The 17th Congressional District race, already ugly, is likely to get uglier still as national party leaders intrude into a contest all see as among those critical to control of the House.
The candidates, incumbent Republican Bobby Schilling of Colona and Democrat Cheri Bustos of East Moline, have insisted they want to talk about policy contrasts and run a clean race.
Ms. Bustos said her campaign will "take the high road." Schilling campaign spokesman Jon Schweppe said he doesn't "want to get into the mud."
But statements issued after Tuesday's primary election reflected the harsh and often over-blown rhetoric favored by the national campaigns.
A Schilling spokesman described Ms. Bustos, who'd just won a three-way race for the Democratic nomination, as a "failed politician."
Ms. Bustos said Rep. Schilling "has worked very hard on behalf of millionaires and billionaires and big oil."
A race In the crosshairs
Both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Republican National Congressional Committee are taking major roles in the race.
Rep. Schilling's victory over Phil Hare in 2010 reversed 27 years of Democratic rule in the 17th District. Redrawn in the 2010 reapportionment by a Democrat-controlled state legislature, the new 17th, all or part of 14 counties in northwestern Illinois, generally is seen as leaning Democratic.
The DCCC says 60 percent of votes within the new district's boundaries went to President Obama in 2008.
Republicans, for contrast, say that in 2010, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., got 53 percent of that vote in his winning campaign, the same percentage Bill Brady got in his losing gubernatorial run.
The DCCC has chosen Ms. Bustos as a "Red to Blue" candidate who has a solid chance to turn out a Republican congressman.
"The road to the majority goes through Illinois," said DCCC chairman Steve Israel. The race's "Red to Blue" status should enhance Ms. Bustos fundraising ability, he said.
Rep.Schilling is among five Congressmen featured by the RCCC's Patriot Program which describes him a conservative leader on a fund-raising website. (electgoppatriots.org/) The RCCC additionally launched cheritales.com, an anti-Bustos website devoted to attacking her record as an East Moline alderman.
The DCCC and the RNCC have been firing off attack messages to the media and bloggers on virtually a daily basis. The news releases come with lurid headlines and red hot rhetoric that tends to obscure any fact that may be present.
Here comes the money
That the Democrats have targeted the seat as one of the 25 across the nation they need to take the House back from the Republicans will make the campaign a magnet for money.
As of Feb. 29, Rep. Schilling's campaign had raised $886,000 this election cycle, while Ms. Bustos had taken in $676,000.
Those numbers still are smaller than those in the 2010 cycle, when Mr. Hare spent $1,759,078 and Mr. Schilling, $1,117,731, making that race the most expensive ever in the district.
There are signs that the pace of fundraising is picking up. In the three weeks since March 1, Rep. Schilling has taken in $70,000 and Ms. Bustos $61,000, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Whatever additional funds the candidates and parties pour into the race could be dwarfed if the so-called Super PACs get involved.
Super PACs -- made possible when the Supreme Court ruled that restricting election spending violates the Constitution's free speech guarantee -- traise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals and spend those funds to support a particular candidate. They are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns, although they usually have close links to the candidates they support.
Ms. Bustos said she would rather Super PACs stay out of the 17th District, even if they support her.
But that's unlikely to happen.
Instead voters can expect an avalanche of money, campaign commercials and direct mail to swamp them as November approaches.
"I expect the race will be highly targeted," said Terry Schilling.
Follow the money
Top 5 donors to Rep. Schilling Crawford Group $13,750 Midwest Control Products Corp $12,400 Caterpillar $12,200 Bluegrass Committee $10,000 Every Republican is Crucial PAC $10,000
Top 5 donors to Cheri Bustos Emily's List $75,857 American Hospital Association $15,000 UA Political Education Committee $10,000 Prairie Political Action Committee $10,000 AMERIPAC $10,000
Today is Sunday, May 19, the 139th day of 2013. There are 226 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: The Rt. Rev. Harry I. Witherspoon, D.D. Bishop of Illinois, willpreach in Trinity (Episcopal) Church, in this city this evening. 1888 -- 125 years ago: At 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon the Mississippi River flooded itsbanks at Rock Island, destroying the warehouse of the Rock Island Lumber companyand damaging the Lumber Company and arsenal power plant. Total loss isestimated at $100.000. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Residents of South Rock Island township are circulating a petitionfavoring the annexation of that area to the city of Rock Island. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Thomas Ackles, of Rock Island, has been elected president ofthe Playcrafters for the next season. She succeeds Warren Leonard. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Some 8,000 people filed through the gates of Rock Island Arsenal on Saturday to view a display of a part of the nation's armed strength. The occasion was theannual observance of Armed Forces Day. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Willis Kuschmann, of Moline, who already has won his laurels as oneof the most artistic men in the Quad-Cities area, has a new hobby. He is deeply involvedin miniature railroading. At the age of 88, when many other seniors are dozing in theirchairs or sitting before the television, Mr. Kuschmann is planning and working on hiscollection.