Primary results were tabulated less than 24 hours ago yet the general election for governor of Illinois is already in full swing. Today, each party put their interpersonal squabbles aside and coalesced behind Democrat Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner.
The nominees came out swinging right out of the gate, with Rauner calling Quinn a failure and Quinn labeling Rauner an out-of-touch billionaire.
Both parties today attempted to show unity after a bruising primary. The Democrats gathered at the Billy Goat Tavern for breakfast this morning – Mayor Rahm Emanuel alongside Quinn, Toni Preckwinkle, Sen. Dick Durbin, and even Cook County party chairman Joe Berrios – whose daughter Toni Berrios lost her primary last night.
Republicans did the same, although almost as if playing right to the Democrats’ script, they held a unity lunch at the Union League Club with a nice meal and what looked to be chocolate truffle cake as dessert.
- Read an article about low voter turnout here and view an interactive graphic on Tuesday's winners here
It’s most likely a microcosm of what the next six months will be like – Pat Quinn trying to paint himself as the governor of the common folk, and Republicans as the elite 1-percenters.
Primary challengers Bill Brady and Dan Rutherford appeared at the Union League Club luncheon. Dillard was not there; his campaign said he was headed to Springfield for official business.
Gone was the rhetoric of Rauner buying the election and palling with Rahm Emanuel. In was the collective desire to beat Quinn.
Rutherford did not stick around to answer questions but there was a moment where Rauner thanked him for his campaign and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Earlier in the day, Quinn’s campaign strategist who had worked to elect Bill De Blasio mayor of New York held a conference call with reporters. He said they would work further to explore Rauner’s entire record in business, and his company’s handling of billions of dollars’ worth of public pension money.
But, for now, the Quinn campaign boils down to three themes: minimum wage, minimum wage, and minimum wage. No matter what the question, his answer was minimum wage.
“Cutting the minimum wage, especially a billionaire with nine mansions, what kind of heartless policy is this?” said Quinn. “We ought to give them a raise, that’s what I’m for.”
Rauner meanwhile will make this a referendum on Quinn and the state’s lagging job numbers and fiscal instability. He says Quinn’s attacks on him are part of a reckless divide and conquer strategy.
“He’s trying to get workers against small business owners,” said Rauner. “He’s about division because division allows the status quo to stay in place.”
The hotly contested primaries did little to move voters to the polls however. Less than 16 percent in suburban Cook County voted; that’s 8 percentage points down from the previous record low. Chicago also set a historic low for voter turnout, with final numbers expected in the low teens. It does appear that crossover may have helped Dillard downstate, in government worker-heavy counties like Sangamon. Rauner says he doesn’t believe the unions were the reason the election was so close.
View a map breaking down Republican gubernatorial votes by county, as well as the results in Chicago below.
~Map created by Kristen Thometz