BELLEVILLE, IL. (KPLR) – In the final hours before polls were set to open Tuesday, campaigning continued down to the wire, from the White House to the State House.
One of the hottest races in the St. Louis area is for the key congressional seat in Illinois, held for more than 24 years by Belleville Democrat, Jerry Costello.
Political experts say the seat could go Republican for the first time since World War II.
Maj. General Bill Enyart, the Democrat, wasn't even a candidate, in the primary.
He was commander of the Illinois National Guard at the time.
He was recruited to run after nominee, Brad Harriman, stepped down citing health reasons.
Enyart may pull it off but Costello admitted, it would be close.
'When the votes are counted, I think Bill Enyart`s going to go to Congress,' Costello said.
He`s campaigning for Enyart after being elected to the seat 12 times; plus winning the special election to succeed Melvin Price, who died in office in 1988.
Price held the seat since 1945.
Republican candidate, Jason Plummer, was also getting a boost from a high placed political friend, Monday. Collinsville, Congressman John Shimkus, of the neighboring 15th district campaigned with Plummer in Alton. Plummer is the heir to R.P. Lumber. He also ran for Illinois Lt. Governor in 2010.
It's been a heated campaign. Plummer`s recently blasted Enyart's wife, a retired circuit judge, for drawing 3 government pensions.
Enyart has blasted Plummer for failing to release tax records, and renting a home in the district to run for office.
Enyart has trumpeted his connection to home-state President, Barack Obama, even on the key issue of jobs. Plummer blasts him for it.
'Every month for the last 5 months, things have gotten worse. We need someone who is going to go to Washington who understands things have gotten worse, is willing to admit things have gotten worse, is going to fight for policies that bring jobs back to southern Illinois,' Plummer said after a recent debate.
'In January (2009) when he (Obama) was inaugurated, the economy was losing 750,000 jobs-a-month. Last month the economy gained nearly 171,000 jobs. That`s a turnaround of nearly 1 million jobs-a-month,' Enyart said.
Costello predicted an Enyart victory, but said history showed it would be a tight race, especially with it being Enyart`s first time around.
'People forget when i ran the first time, my election was close. I won by 52% of the vote. We`ve never gotten less than 60% since then. In many elections we got over 70%. Is this election going to be close? Yes?' Costello said.
Polls by Real Clear Politics showed this race doing a 7 point flip in recent weeks, going from Plummer up 2, to Enyart up +5.
One source said the early read on early voting showed a 2-to-1 edge for Enyart, based on past voting patterns.