Editor's Note: There are just 42 days until Election Day, and the NBC News political unit each day will profile the most competitive races this midterm season.
This contest is probably the GOP’s top gubernatorial pick-up opportunity, given Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s low approval ratings and the state’s higher-than-national-average unemployment rate (though it’s dropped significantly since last year). The Republican nominee is wealthy political novice Bruce Rauner, whom Democrats have tried to portray as another Mitt Romney (Rauner admitted belonging to a $100,000-plus wine club). A recent Chicago Tribune poll found Quinn leading Rauner by double digits, 48%-37%, but it also showed Quinn with a 36% job-approval rating, which is DANGEROUS territory for an incumbent governor.