Joe Biden Chicago visit: President in Joliet Saturday in final push before 2022 Election Day; VP Kamala Harris visiting Sunday

CHICAGO (WLS) — President Joe Biden is in Joliet on Saturday making a final push for high-profile Illinois candidates in the days leading up to the election.

2022 ELECTION | Voter Information in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin

President Biden is expected to give remarks at Jones Elementary School on lowering prescription drug cots and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

He’ll be joined by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood who is up for re-election in the closely-watched 14th District. Her challenger is Republican Scott Gryder who is the current chairman of the Kendall County Board.

Congressman Bill Foster, whose district includes Joliet, will not be at the event; he said he will be busy with his own campaign duties.

President Biden stepped off Air Force One at O’Hare Friday evening and attended a private fundraiser at a Rosemont hotel for suburban Democratic Congressman Sean Casten.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was also in Chicago to attend a fundraiser in Oak Brook for Keith Pekau. Pekau is running against Democratic incumbent Congressman Sean Casten in the Illinois Sixth Congressional District.

The race between Casten and Pekau appears to be tightening in the days before Election Day.

“There’s a lot of places I could be with four days before the election, but I’m here because this race matters. This race is a toss-up,” McCarthy said.

“For me, I’m focused on the issues that matter for the American people here in the 6th district: crime, inflation and the economy,” Pekau said.

“I wouldn’t expect that Leader McCarthy would spend his time on something he didn’t think would be useful. Certainly there’s a symbolic element of it, but I also think there’s enough races that look like they’re getting close that they are going to matter for his potential speakership,” said Stephen Caliendo, political science professor at North Central College.

At the other end of the same hall in the very same hotel, Casten defended his record alongside Senator Dick Durbin.

“What I hope they vote on is integrity and character and that we’ve been there and that we’ve stood up,” Casten said.

His voters acknowledged the race could be closer than two years ago, but still believe in him.

“I think he’s going to win. I really do. Partly just because he’s constantly out there talking to people, listening to people,” said Diane Rodi, Casten supporter.

“The congressional candidates, they’ve been redistricted. They’ve got new constituents. These are very important races,” said Professor Dick Simpson, political science professor at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sunday afternoon, Vice President Kamala Harris will attend a rally on the South Side with Governor JB Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington says these visits are meant to deliver the message that this is not a typical mid-term election.

ILLINOIS GENERAL ELECTION | Meet the candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress

“They believe the race is tightening on both sides,” Washington said. “They want to get their heavy hitters out. They want to make sure they boost turnout in the last days of the campaign.”

Interestingly, neither Biden nor Harris, who have low approval ratings, were invited by candidates. The visits instead have been driven by the White House.

“The White House wants to pitch in areas where they do have a positive impact and I do think the sixth is one of those areas, because every seat’s going to matter,” said Alvin Tillery, political science professor at Northwestern University.

In a statement, the Illinois Republican Party said, “With historic inflation levels fueling rising gas and grocery costs, Democrats in toss-up seats across the country don’t want to campaign with President Biden. Forced to defend once reliably safe Democrat seats in the Chicago suburbs, he will see voters’ frustrations with his spending agenda firsthand.”

But with so many people having cast ballots already, and with most people having already made up their minds by this point, the focus for both sides is on getting out the vote.

“There’s a calculation going on both with the Republicans and the Democrats to put people in the right places, to mobilize folks for Tuesday,” Caliendo said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will also be in the Chicago area Friday. She’ll visit a local high school and then tour the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont.

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