Brady Concedes, Quinn Wins Full Term as Governor
Republican Bill Brady conceded the extremely close race for Illinois governor Friday to Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, giving him his first full term in office after replacing ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich nearly two years ago.
The state senator thanked supporters at a press conference in his hometown and pledged to work with Quinn and his legislative colleagues.
"Illinois families need leadership and it is time after a bitter election that our leaders come together and unite for the families of Illinois," he said in Bloomington. Brady said he had called to congratulate Quinn on his win.
The Brady campaign had been searching since Election Day for possible uncounted votes to close the just more than 19,400-vote lead Quinn held.
But election results made it clear Quinn had won. An AP analysis of uncounted votes from absentee and other ballots showed Brady wouldn't be able to overcome Quinn's lead with all precincts reporting.
The victory means Quinn avoided the fate of Democratic governors nationwide who were swept away by a Republican surge.
Quinn won the state's closest governor's race in decades and has to tackle one of the nation's worst budget problems and a deficit that could top $15 billion.
"I have work to do," he said Thursday, the same day the state Senate put off voting on a borrowing plan Quinn wants to pay the state's underfunded pension system. "I know the people of Illinois want to make sure we get our economy back on stride. That's what I'm focused on night and day."
State officials have until Dec. 3 to certify all results.
Quinn has already moved on thanking voters Thursday at a Chicago deli.
"I think the people of Illinois know I won the election," said Quinn, who held on even as Republicans in Illinois claimed the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama, along with a majority of the state's congressional delegation.
Tuesday's election was the closest Illinois governor's contest since 1982, when incumbent Republican Jim Thompson defeated Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson by 5,074 votes.
Unofficial results compiled by AP and released Thursday showed Brady trailing Quinn by a margin of about half a percentage point in an election where 3.6 million ballots were cast. That's a tiny difference, but there was no way Brady could make it up, the AP found.
Thousands of provisional ballots were cast in Tuesday's election, but experts say few of those will end up being declared valid. And if they are, most come from Cook County, a Quinn stronghold.
There also are tens of thousands of absentee ballots sent to voters that haven't been returned, as well as some that have been returned but not yet counted. Experts say absentee ballots that haven't been sent in yet probably never will be.
"When you get a few days out from the election, most of them don't come back," said Ken Menzel, an attorney with the State Board of Elections.
Even if all the absentee ballots wound up being counted, they would not help Brady close the gap if they followed local voting trends.
Exit polls showed Quinn received overwhelming support in the city of Chicago and had solid support among those from households with less than $100,000 income, labor union households and those with a family member who had lost a job in the last two years.
Quinn campaigned on a politically risky proposal to raise the state income tax by one-third as Illinois struggles with its budget deficit. Brady flatly rejected raising taxes.
Derek Rank, 38, of Chicago, said he voted for Quinn because he was forthcoming about the state's fiscal mess, even if that meant higher taxes.
"He was honest about actually having to increase taxes," said Rank, an information technology expert. "If you're saying you can eliminate the hole we're in without raising taxes, you're lying.