SOUTH LOOP — The corned beef was piled high — and came with a side of politics — at Manny's Deli in the South Loop Tuesday.
As is tradition, Democratic candidates and supporters flocked to the iconic restaurant at 1141 S. Jefferson St. while voters headed to the polls.
At one table, Secretary of State Jesse White sat next to U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth and Senate Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin. City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who is running for Illinois State Comptroller, later joined the crew.
"Manny's is a lucky charm," said Mendoza, who was locked in a tight battle with current comptroller Leslie Munger.
She then proceeded to bite into what she called a "lucky pastrami sandwich" and gave a thumbs up.
Duckworth, who had a corned beef sandwich, potato pancake and pickle, told reporters that the election was indeed historic for women.
"It's so historic. What's historic is the fact that the women in each case are the best candidate. You shouldn't vote for them just because they are women, you should vote for them because they are the best candidate."
She said she was impressed that voters were bringing their daughters to the polls to witness history, but "what really warms my heart is they are also bringing their sons out to show them all the women at the top of the ticket."
After he had a bowl of matzah ball soup, Durbin worked the room for most of the lunch hour, stopping to chat with customers and Manny's employees throughout the newly expanded cafe.
He said while campaigning Monday night the Democrats had a "50-50" chance of taking back the Senate, but Tuesday seemed casual and upbeat despite the fact his future hung in the balance.
Susana Mendoza, who is running for state comptroller, talks to a customer at Manny's on Election Day. [DNAinfo/Dave Newbart]
“The numbers as of today make it look like it’s literally 50/50," he said. "And really, it could well come down to 50 seats for each party."
Duckworth also paused to speak with customers before heading to Taqueria Casa del Pueblo, 1834 S. Blue Island Ave., in Pilsen, where Latino voters were coming out in huge numbers.
Politics and Manny's have gone hand in for years.
Since then political figures including mayors Richard J. and Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama and strategist David Axelrod have frequented Manny's over the years. Former Gov. Pat Quinn notably took a victory lap at the deli after getting elected in 2010.
Owner Ken Raskin, the son of the late Manny, said it had becom he understood the tradition for some pols to come to the restaurant around election time.
"There is something special about being here," he said. "But we don't tell them what to eat."
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