By Cole Lauterbach, Illinois News Network
SPRINGFIELD – Voters handed Gov. Bruce Rauner a decisive rebuke Tuesday, turning the governor’s mansion to Democrat J.B. Pritzker and giving Democrats even more power in Springfield.
Democrat J.B. Pritzker rode the wave of significantly higher turnout, with many pollsters calling the race in the billionaire Chicago Democrat’s favor minutes after the polls closed.
Pritzker’s win gives Democrats firm control of all branches of state government. Party leaders, including Pritzker, want to implement a progressive income tax structure, but have not given details on what the rates might be for different income levels. The Democratic party is also in a position to redraw the state’s political boundaries in 2021 in a way that would further strengthen their numbers, in both the statehouse and Congress.
In addition to winning the governor’s mansion and holding onto the Attorney General’s office, Democrats also retained the statewide offices of the Comptroller, Treasurer and Secretary of State.
“Are you ready to fight for Illinois?” Pritzker asked cheering supporters at an event in Chicago. “We will become the leading protector of workers rights and civil rights in the nation.”
Pritzker becomes the first Illinois Democratic candidate for governor to win more than four counties since Rod Blagojevich in 2006.
“This election is over,” Rauner told a crowd in Chicago. But Rauner said “that does not mean the end of the change we need.”
Rauner thanked supporters for the chance to serve them.
What turned out to be the most expensive statewide race in U.S. history, put an incumbent multi-millionaire investor against a multi-billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune. Rauner and Pritzker spent more than $284 million between them in the race.
Pritzker stands to get paid $177,412 annually as governor. Rauner had not taken a salary.
Rauner will remain in the governor’s mansion until January, when Pritzker’s administration will take over.