ProPublica Illinois reporter Mick Dumke looks at the states political issues and personalities in this occasional column.
The official slogan of the state of Illinois remains Land of Lincoln, and lots of Republicans still live here. But its no longer the land of his political party. The GOP isnt winning many elections, which is generally considered the purpose of a political party.
The State Journal-Registers Bernard Schoenburg, Doug Finke and Angie Muhs break down Tuesdays Election Day results, including the Democratic sweep of statewide offices and Republican sweep of our two local U.S. House seats.
BREAKDOWN: How Central Illinois voted in the governors race
And that brings us to the bluebath that happened this week, when Illinois Democrats seized two congressional seats that for decades had been held by Republicans, ousted one-term Gov. Bruce Rauner, easily held onto every other statewide office, solidified control of the General Assembly and toppled the Cook County commissioner who chairs the state GOP.
CHICAGO (WIFR) — Illinois Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker hopes to legalize marijuana quickly once he takes office, according to a report from WFLD in Chicago.
The land of Lincoln and Barack Obama, J.B. Pritzker called the state during his speech after beating Rauner. He didnt need to point out that Obama is a fellow Democrat.
Pritzker won the Illinois Governors race Tuesday over incumbent Bruce Rauner, who has shown opposition to legalizing marijuana.
Four years ago, voters were weary of state leaders lack of fiscal discipline — high taxes and billions of dollars of debt will do that — and Gov. Pat Quinn didnt inspire confidence. Rauner, a millionaire businessman, promised to fix the government and stand up to Michael Madigan, the state House speaker, Democratic Party chair and most powerful figure in state government.
Rauner received about 1.8 million votes to 1.7 million for Quinn, who didnt concede until the day after the election.
After four years of bitter feuding with Madigan, including a two-year budget impasse, Rauner still received more than 1.7 million votes Tuesday. Unfortunately for him, about 2.4 million people voted for Pritzker.
Emblematic was DuPage County, a GOP stronghold. In 2014, Rauner cleaned up there with 61 percent of the vote. This time, though he received close to the same number of actual votes, he lost the county to Pritzker.
In 2014, Rauner didnt just win his partys nomination — he all but purchased it, just as hed bought and sold businesses when he was leading a private equity firm. In the two years leading to his election as governor, Rauner poured about $28 million of his personal wealth into his campaign fund, records show. At the same time, Rauner, his campaign, and his wife, Diana, gave more than $9 million to other GOP candidates and committees across Illinois.
Gas tax hike may be around the corner for Gov.-elect JB Pritzker
As he moved toward his re-election bid, Rauner was even more generous, putting $50 million into his campaign fund and distributing almost $16 million to other Republicans.
The strategy, and the money, were so convincing that Pritzker decided to do the same thing, but on a scale that made Rauners giving look chintzy by comparison. Pritzker pumped more than $171 million of his own money into his campaign fund, and he handed out about $24 million to other Democratic committees and candidates, including the DuPage County Democratic Central Committee.
Dear Governor-elect Pritzker
As the state budget crisis stretched more than two years, Democrats blamed Rauner, and much of the public sided with them. Rauner conceded defeat Tuesday less than an hour after the polls closed, ending the contentious, expensive campaign so suddenly that some of the governors critics seemed unprepared to talk about what theyll do once hes out of the way.
Thirty minutes after the race was called, state Comptroller Susana Mendoza took the stage at Pritzkers election night gathering and introduced herself as your truth-telling fiscal watchdog who was not afraid to stand up to the biggest bully in this state, Bruce Rauner! Mendoza, who is weighing a run for mayor of Chicago, then celebrated Rauners defeat by shouting, Youre fired! — a line long associated with Donald Trumps days on the reality show The Apprentice.
The Democrats still werent done ripping on Rauner. An hour after he conceded, Sen. Richard Durbin ridiculed the governor for riding his motorcycle around the state while wearing a leather vest. Downstaters, he said, can spot a phony a mile away.
Then, on Wednesday, Madigan took a shot at Rauner in a press release, which was especially striking because he rarely issues statements or otherwise communicates with the public. Last nights election results definitively proved that the Rauner Republican playbook of attempting to make the entire 2018 election a referendum on Speaker Madigan, to distract from Republicans record, is a failure, the release said.
Instead, the Democrats managed to turn the elections into a referendum on Rauner and Trump. Voters now hope the Democrats will be half as good at addressing the states budget and debt problems as they were at mocking the governor.
Democrats disliked Rauner from the beginning, but for many conservative Republicans it took a couple of years. After he signed legislation expanding access to abortion and protections for undocumented immigrants, the right wing of the party launched its own attacks. To critics like state Rep. Jeanne Ives, Rauner had abandoned the partys base, proving once again that the Democrats will always win if Republicans surrender and move to the center.
Still, Ives came up short when she challenged Rauner in the GOP primary. So have most of the conservative candidates backed by her allies and funders. For example, of the top 20 candidates supported this election cycle by the Liberty Principles political action committee, run by Ives ally Dan Proft, 16 lost. Among them: state Rep. Peter Breen, the GOP floor leader in the state House, who represents a district in DuPage County.
Are you ready to fight for Illinois? Pritzker said during his victory speech, and his supporters shouted that they were.
But as the GOP regroups, Ives and her allies are funded by their own really rich guys, and theyre eager to keep pushing the party and the land of Lincoln to the right.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel isnt running for re-election in February, and 17 would-be successors, give or take a few, are hoping to get on the ballot. All 50 seats in the City Council are also up for election. Voters were tuned in even before the ballots were counted Tuesday.
Theyre glad about the mayors race, said Barbara Kendricks, who was talking with voters and handing out flyers Tuesday outside a polling place in the South Side Kenwood neighborhood. The mayor, we want him out.
Mick Dumke reports on politics at ProPublica Illinois, with particular interest in housing policies, criminal justice and city and state government.
Much of Central Illinois opted to keep Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, but three area counties bucked the trend.
Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties voted for Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who ultimately won Tuesday’s midterm governor’s race, buoyed mainly by Chicago and the majority of its suburbs, along with votes a handful of counties across the state, including Rock Island, Champaign and St. Clair in the St. Louis suburbs.
Peoria voted for Pritzker 48 percent to 44 percent. Knox went for Pritzker 46 to 44.7, while Fulton went 45-40 for the Democrat.
The most heavily conservative vote in the governor’s race in Central Illinois was Woodford, which went 67-23 for Rauner. Livingston went 62-28 for Rauner. McLean, Tazewell, Mason, Stark, Marshall, Putnam and LaSalle also opted for Rauner.
The results contrast sharply with the 2014 gubernatorial race, when only Cook County opted for then-Gov. Pat Quinn over challenger Bruce Rauner.