Photo by Jeff Vorva
A few hours before Nik Wallenda confidently walked across a tight rope high above Chicago, Bruce Rauner was confidently talking tough in Hickory Hills.
Even though late polls showed the Republican challenger for Illinois governor was a couple of percentage points down to incumbent Pat Quinn, Rauner came out guns-a-blazin’ at the Lexington House in Hickory Hills, helping to put an exclamation point to a race that one TV political analyst said featured the most negative campaigning in the history of Illinois.
“You’ve all seen the baloney political ad that Pat Quinn is running,” Rauner told the lathered up crowd on Sunday. “He starts out by saying ‘you know me.’
“Yes Pat Quinn, we do know you. Yes we know you. We know the huge tax hikes you put on the families of Illinois. Yes, Pat Quinn, we know you. We know the jobs and the businesses that you’ve run out of our state. Yes, Pat Quinn, we know you. We know the schools that you’ve been cutting in funding and shredding our social services. Yes, Pat Quinn, we know that you’re a patronage worker, a crony corruption guy just like Rod Blagojevich. We know you use our money for a political slush fund. We know you hired illegally in IDOT. We know you’re a part of the system.
“And you know what, Pat Quinn? You know what else we know about you? We’re going to vote you out of office on Tuesday.’’
It turns out, Rauner was right.
After walking a tightrope and riding a rollercoaster on election night, the multimillionaire unofficially squeaked out a victory over Quinn by garnering 50.73 percent of the vote (1,757,569) with 99.54 percent of the polls counted while Quinn picked up 45.89 (1,589,993) and Libertarian Chad Grimm pulled in just 3 percent (117,060).
Rauner proclaimed victory at about 11:15 p.m. Quinn, however, did not concede the loss as of late Tuesday night and it appears he will take his time before issuing such a speech.
“They will be counting the votes (Wednesday) and the next day and probably the next day,” Quinn told his supporters at the Hotel Allegro. “And until that happens, I don’t think we should make any judgment on the results of this election. But I want to say that for everyone who voted in Illinois and who worked on our campaign so hard in such an energetic way…we believe in the cause and the cause is that everyday people get a fair shake.
“That’s what I devoted my life to. And we are the government of the many. And we do have to take on the government of the money. And we will never, ever yield to a result until all the votes are in.’’
Some of the early vote totals from Chicago and Cook County were not included and Quinn is still hoping he can make up the difference.
Rauner was more than happy to declare victory despite Quinn’s refusal to quit as the Republican called it a victory for “every family in Illinois.’’
Speaking of family, he publically thanked members of his family for what they endured the past couple of months.
“It was a tough with all of the mud-slinging, the fights and the viciousness,’’ Rauner said at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. “It’s hard on the family. We are so blessed. We started this campaign almost two years ago. We’ve driven more than 150,000 in the state of Illinois. We’ve been in every corner of the state. It’s an honor to go to work for you. I’m humbled. I’m honored. This is the time to restore good government in Illinois.
“Let’s do it. Let’s shake up Springfield. Let’s bring back Illinois.’’
Before Quinn announced he was not conceding the race, the Republican Governors Association was gleefully blasting out an email congratulating Rauner.
“It’s time to bring back Illinois with Governor Bruce Rauner,” RGA Chairman Chris Christie said in a statement. “Rauner proved in this race that he is the antidote to Illinois’ longstanding woes; his leadership is exactly what the state needs to shake the status quo for good and become competitive again. With Bruce Rauner at the helm, brighter days are ahead for Illinois. The Republican Governors Association is proud to congratulate Governor-elect Bruce Rauner on his victory.”
Republican Senator Mark Kirk was also happy with the apparent victory and may be reaching into his pockets for some chow in the near future.
“For the first time in a long time, I am optimistic about the future of Illinois,” Kirk said in a statement. “In a show of unity, I will host Governor-Elect Rauner, [Chicago] Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel and Senator [Dick] Durbin to lunch so we can immediately begin to work in coordination for our great state.”