Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has called Democrat J.B. Pritzker to concede.
With numbers not yet in, Rauner called Pritzker and promised a smooth transition, Rauner’s campaign has confirmed.
Pritzker delivered a swift victory on Tuesday over Rauner — who never recovered from a splinter within his own party and the record-breaking resources Pritzker threw into his gubernatorial campaign.
In the end, the blow was quick and brutal for Rauner, a political outsider, who vowed to turn around the state four years ago. Instead, he became known for his battles with political foe Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan — and left to blame for the state’s longest budget which amassed the state in billions of dollars in debt and decimated the state’s public universities.
Pritzker, amassed by the $171.5 million he poured into his campaign, led an expansive, well-run statewide campaign, full of hundreds of field offices and staffers. His millions in television ads were unavoidable, as were digital ads splattered onto Facebook, YouTube and even Spotify.
The heir to the Hyatt fortune, too, ensured his chances by starting his campaign early. Pritzker announced his run a whopping 578 days ago. And Democratic forces had already been in play far earlier to try to defeat Rauner, whom they staged a war with throughout the impasse.
Democrats, too, worked hard to try to link Rauner to President Donald Trump. For years, Rauner dodged questions about the president. Last year, the governor spoke out about some of his more divisive rhetoric. This year, with the campaign season underway, the governor credited the president for his tax plan. And Rauner himself appeared at a Trump rally last month in downstate Murphysboro.
For Rauner, the momentum — and record-setting cash flow — was too much to overcome. Rauner, a self-made millionaire, for weeks lamented that he couldn’t match the spending of a billionaire. But that was also part of a tactic to show voters Pritzker may not understand the struggles of the middle-class.
The Gold Coast billionaire’s $171.5 million bought him a place in the record books, breezing past Republican Meg Whitman, who set the previous record in 2010, when the former eBay honcho churned $144 million of her own fortune into her losing battle against Democrat Jerry Brown And the combined $255 million that Pritzker and Gov. Bruce Rauner have raised in their bitter battle falls short of the combined $280 million that Brown and Whitman ultimately spent.
Rauner had plenty of odds stacked against him, including two third-party candidates, with both likely taking votes away from him. Rauner faced a bruising in the March primary, winning by just four points against challenger State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton. Ives, who is pro-life, highlighted Rauner’s signing of HB40, a measure that expanded taxpayer funding of abortion, as a sign Rauner had abandoned the state party. But Rauner, since his days first campaigning, had said he was pro-choice and a social moderate.
In 2014, Rauner won every county in Illinois besides Cook. His campaign has said they needed 21 percent of the vote in Cook County for a chance to win.
Pritzker ended his campaign with a big get-out-the-vote effort by former President Obama, who hosted a large rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Rauner had served as Illinois’ governor since 2015. In his reelection campaigning, Rauner touted “historic change” made under his administration, citing education funding reform and taxpayer savings via changes to government operations and Medicaid. He claimed a second term would be “transformative” for the state, but blamed Mike Madigan for blocking much of the change he promised when he first ran. Rauner’s running mate was Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Pritzker, 53, won the Democratic party ticket by a wide margin in the primaries in a crowded race of challengers to incumbent Gov. Rauner. A venture capitalist from a well-known, wealthy family, his platform includes balancing the budget with tax redistribution, better funding public education with an emphasis on vocational education in high schools, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and opposing union-busting policies like “right-to-work” zones in the state. Pritzker’s lieutenant governor candidate is State Rep. Julianna Stratton.
Two third-party candidates were also in the race: William “Sam” McCann, a Conservative candidate with running mate Aaron Merrighn, and Libertarian Grayson “Kash” Jackson, running with lieutenant governor candidate Sanjeev Mohip.
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