J.B. Pritzker defeats Rauner in gubernatorial race


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

J.B. Pritzker speaks at his victory party at the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Chicago. Pritzker defeated incumbent Bruce Rauner in the gubernatorial race Tuesday.

Clare Proctor, Assistant City Editor

CHICAGO — Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker has won the Illinois gubernatorial election, defeating Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner.

As of late Tuesday, Pritzker has received 53.9 percent of the vote, with Rauner winning 39.4 percent, according to the Associated Press.

Pritzker took the stage in the Grand Horizon Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Chicago just over an hour after he was declared the winner of Tuesday’s race. The crowd — made up of over 4,000 supporters — chanted his name as he stepped up to the podium.

“I am so grateful tonight to everyone here in this room and those watching at home,” Pritzker told the crowd. “Voting is an act of optimism that the levers of our democracy still work. You embody that optimism.”

Pritzker, a Chicago businessman and entrepreneur, ran on promises of a graduated income tax and expanded access to affordable health care across Illinois.

In his victory speech, he thanked Rauner for his service to the state. He then spoke of Illinois’ resilience in overcoming past challenges, citing the 1871 Chicago fire as an example. He spoke of the “light that burns” from women, people of color, immigrants and other groups of people facing adversity throughout the state.

“That is Illinois,” Pritzker said. “Full of light that come from the people that overcome and endure struggle.”

Pritzker’s running mate, Juliana Stratton, became the state’s first black lieutenant governor. Speaking at the victory party, Stratton thanked the crowd for helping create a “stronger, more inclusive state.”

“My heart is with the women who have been dismissed and disbelieved when it comes to the harassments to which they’ve been subjected,” Stratton said. “We can decide what’s best for ourselves.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke prior to Pritzker, just before 8:30 p.m., to congratulate the governor-elect on his victory. He and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) endorsed Pritzker in December, he said, saying the state “desperately, desperately needed new leadership.”

“The negative impact which (Rauner’s) failure to reach a budget had on universities and towns was well-known across the state,” Durbin said.

Rauner, who was elected governor in 2014, ran on a platform of tax cuts and criminal justice reform during his 2018 campaign. For much of his time in office, Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) were gridlocked over the state’s budget beginning in 2015. They failed to pass one until nearly two years later, in 2017, when legislators overrode Rauner’s veto of a budget proposal.

Chicago resident Jay Payne said he attended the event because of his opposition to Rauner. He said he hopes Pritzker can bring progress to Illinois.

“I hope people’s pensions can be saved,” Payne said. “I hope taxes can be lowered. I hope business can be brought under the state. I hope the quality of life of Illinois can be revived.”

Both Pritzker’s and Rauner’s gubernatorial runs were characterized by high spending. Together, the two raised more than $255 million throughout the campaign. Of the over $176 million Pritzker raised, more than $171 million came from his own pocket, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, State Treasurer Mike Frerichs and State Comptroller Susana Mendoza — all Democrats — also spoke at the party as they celebrated their own election victories alongside Pritzker.

Pritzker ended his victory speech with the same question he has posed throughout his campaign.

Turning to the room of supporters, he asked: “Are you ready for the fight?”

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