Rauner declares victory in Illinois governor race

By Sarah Gardner

Republican challenger Bruce Rauner claimed victory Tuesday night in the Illinois governor race as voters ended a dozen years of one-party Democratic rule following a vicious campaign that set records for campaign fundraising.

“This is your victory,” Rauner told supporters. “This is a victory for every family in Illinois. This election is about bringing back our great state.”

Rauner had 51 percent to 46 percent for Gov. Pat Quinn, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial totals from The Associated Press early Wednesday morning. Libertarian Party candidate Chad Grimm had 3 percent.


Kim Harris, a retired SIU professor from Carbondale said he was unhappy with the Republican and Democratic candidates and voted libertarian as a form of protest.

“I am disgusted with both of the candidates and my vote was a protest vote,” Harris said.

Quinn rolled up a big margin in Chicago, scoring more than three-quarters of the vote. But Rauner kept it close in suburban Cook County, trailing Quinn by just 6 percentage points. In the suburban collar counties, Rauner held wide margins of 15 percentage points or more. Rauner also held leads in most Downstate counties.

Those figures came with a caveat: Not all of the early ballots cast in Chicago and suburban Cook were included in the totals election authorities were reporting earlier Tuesday evening.

Quinn refused to concede defeat.

“I don’t believe in throwing in the towel when there are that many votes still to be counted,” Quinn said.

Central to Quinn’s strategy was his party’s national push to raise the minimum wage, an idea that’s overwhelmingly popular with a public weary of stagnant pay for most workers but staunchly opposed by business interests who argue that higher wages would hamper job growth.


Samantha Woodside, a senior from Detroit studying healthcare management said one reason she voted was because she will soon be graduating and entering the workforce.

“I have a lot of friends who, of course, are not college educated and do work minimum wage jobs and I think just to benefit them is mainly why I voted,” she said.

Corinne Arnold, and freshman from Chicago studying fashion design said minimum wage was the key factor in her decision to vote.

“I voted for Quinn because of his stance on raising the minimum wage. As a college student, raising the minimum wage would drastically help me financially and give me a better chance to survive on my own,” she said.

The issue played directly into Quinn’s efforts to paint Rauner as too wealthy to care about the plight of the average Illinoisan. Quinn received help from Rauner himself, who took shifting positions on the matter during the Republican primary and at one point suggested the minimum wage should be eliminated altogether.

Rauner also antagonized organized labor with tough talk about public workers being overpaid and union bosses complicit in the state’s financial plight. Though frustrated at times with Quinn, public employee unions still rallied to support him over the Republican.

Will Attig, of Murphysboro said he hoped a large turnout would support organized labor, school teachers and the middle class.

“Illinois is one of the last strong labor states. This is one of the most important elections in history,” said Attig, who is a union pipefitter out of the UA Local 160 in Murphysboro. “Governor Quinn has went out of his way to support labor throughout his career. He is pro-unions, pro-middle class, pro-jobs. Rauner has done nothing but make billions by going into businesses, taking them for four or five years, taking everything out of them, and leaving them bankrupt. And if we want that to happen to our state, that’s his plan.”

Quinn assailed Rauner as an “out-of-touch billionaire” who “made a fortune off the misfortune of vulnerable human beings.” Rauner hit back by proclaiming Quinn “the worst governor in America” whose fumbling leadership had left the state “in a death spiral.”

A win by Rauner would put an end to 12 years of total Democratic dominance in Springfield. Both houses of the Legislature will remain in Democratic hands after Tuesday, but if Rauner were elected governor he could use veto and other powers to provide a significant check on lawmakers.

On the other hand, a Quinn victory, despite low job-approval ratings, would vividly underscore how firmly Illinois, the home of President Barack Obama, has been transformed into a Democratic stronghold.

Josh Murray contributed to this report.