NORMAL — Democrats and Republicans both brought in heavy-hitters to stump for their 13th Congressional District candidates Monday.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and U.S. Rep Cheri Bustos, a Moline Democrat, visited the Twin Cities as Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Springfield Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan faced off for the final time before the Nov. 6 election.
Rubio, a 2016 presidential candidate, joined Davis supporters at the uptown Marriott Hotel and Conference Center to watch the debate.
Rubio shared the stage with Davis and more than a dozen other local Republicans shortly after the debate ended, asking supporters to stand by Davis even though they may not always agree with his moderate stances.
"He is one of those guys that is able to lead passionately for the principles that matter, that are good for our country, but do so in a way that those who support him can be proud of," he said. "Why in the world ... would we get rid of someone like that and replace him with just another political combatant?"
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Bustos, who hopes to become assistant House majority leader if Democrats take back the House, participated in a "get out the vote" rally Monday afternoon at Illinois State University with Londrigan and Nikita Richards, the Democratic opponent of Republican McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael.
Bustos encouraged students to consider participating in "Build the Bench," a one-day boot camp for prospective candidates that Richards participated in last year, as well as canvassing and voting leading up to Nov. 6.
"Remember what you felt like the day after the election in November 2016?" said Bustos, referring to the election in which Republicans won all three branches of government, including Donald Trump's presidency. "You have the power to make sure we don't have that feeling again in November of 2018."
Because of its size — stretching from Champaign-Urbana to Madison County, and including all or parts of Decatur and Bloomington-Normal — the district is hard to predict, said Brian J. Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.