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  Senate rivals struggle to wash off mud stains
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Last EditedNone Entered  Mar 15, 2004 02:45pm
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MediaNewspaper - Chicago Tribune
News DateSunday, March 14, 2004 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionIn U.S. Senate campaigns that have dwelled on issues of character even as some displayed very little of it, the endgame for Tuesday's primary will come down to a battle to get voters to forget all that and show up at the polls anyway.

With the presidential nominations decided and providing no magnet to draw interest or excitement, the Democratic and Republican Senate races are forced to put a premium on old-fashioned staples of Illinois politics--palm cards, neighborhood political operatives, church groups and labor muscle.

But there's an intangible when it comes to turning out the vote--passion. And with the crowded field of candidates doing their best of late to turn the campaign into a muddy expose of each other's personal warts, it is no sure bet that voters who have declared support for a candidate will make the effort to cast a ballot.

Though recent public opinion polls have established two front-runners--Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Jack Ryan--the same polls show the races to be fluid. The outcome may hinge on last-minute decisions of large numbers of undecided people, assuming they decide to vote at all.
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