DOWNTOWN — Republican Bruce Rauner claimed victory in the governor's race over incumbent Pat Quinn in Tuesday's election after a bare-knuckle campaign in which they raised and spent close to $100 million, double the state record set four years ago.
Rauner spent the majority of that while putting almost $30 million of his own money into the campaign.
The contentious race went down to the wire and beyond, as both candidates appeared before TV cameras at 11:15 p.m., Rauner to claim victory, Quinn to say it would be "prudent" to wait for all votes to be counted.
"There's a lot of votes still to be counted," Quinn said. "I don't believe in throwing in the towel."
"The voters have spoken," Rauner responded. He vowed to find "bipartisan solutions to solve the problems of Illinois," adding, "This is our time. ... We are here tonight to go to work for you."
"The decision has been made," said Rauner's running mate Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Quinn monitored returns Tuesday night at the Hotel Allegro, 171 W. Randolph St., Rauner at the Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan Ave. Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told WLS-TV Channel 7 the governor would not be conceding the race Tuesday night, saying, "There are just too many outstanding ballots left to be counted." Channel 7's final figures, posted early Wednesday morning, showed, with 98 percent of precincts counted, Rauner holding 50 percent of the vote to Quinn's 45 percent.
Major media outlets called the U.S. Senate election for incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin over Republican Jim Oberweis almost immediately after polls closed.
Durbin won a fourth term in the Senate, and after Oberweis conceded with a phone call Durbin said, "I'm gonna be buying Oberweis ice cream."
Yet Durbin also said there were serious lessons to be learned from the campaign.
"People across Illinois and across America want more," he said. "They want us to work together to find solutions."
Durbin decried the money that poured into campaigns following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, saying attack TV ads were "distorting the records" and adding, "We have to reclaim the American political system."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement lauding Durbin as Chicago's representative in the U.S. Senate.
"On everything from rebuilding the CTA to making Chicago a center for research and innovation, Sen. Durbin works tirelessly to ensure that we have the federal resources we need to bring economic opportunity to every one of our neighborhoods," Emanuel said. "I look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Durbin to move Chicago forward one neighborhood and one community at a time."
Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said the usual turnout in an off-year election was between 44 and 53 percent of registered voters, but he did not expect Tuesday's figure to reach the 53 percent of four years ago. Early estimates tended toward 50 percent in the city.
Both Allen and Cook County Clerk David Orr, who was in charge of suburban county votes outside the city, warned about the large number of mailed-in absentee ballots still to be counted, as well as provisional ballots.
In a midafternoon conference call with reporters, Allen said the election board had scrambled all day to deal with a rash of no-show judges, the result of what he called "a new dirty trick" in politics. According to Allen, some 6,000 judges, "all affiliated with one political party," received robocalls over the weekend telling them they had to attend another training session before Tuesday's election. Because of that, he estimated more than 2,000 judges failed to show up at assigned polling places.
Allen said the board dealt with it, as it had 10,000 judges prepared to cover the city's 2,069 precincts, and losing an average of one a precinct did not significantly affect the voting process.
Allen said he felt he had to be "obtuse" and not identify what appeared to be the offending political party on Election Day, but that the board would seek an investigation into a "malicious" practice that had the potential to "negatively impact people's ability to vote." He expected charges to eventually be filed for "interfering with the orderly conduct of a federal election."
"It's interference in the election process," said board Chairman Langdon Neal, adding that it would be a felony offense.
Other polling-place snafus were more mundane, but led Allen to say four places, comprising six precincts, would be kept open an extra hour to 8 p.m. once they had received a judge's permission to do so.
The 9th Precinct polling place in the 49th Ward at the Rogers Park Leona's Restaurant, 6935 N. Sheridan Road, did not open until 7:30 a.m. "There was an issue with a proprietor," Allen said. "The owner didn't show up. We had to bust the door down."
The 36th Precinct polling place in the 46th Ward at a condominium at 3550 N. Lake Shore Drive found judges telling voters early on they weren't prepared and advising them to go to 69 W. Washington Blvd. to vote.
Judges were slow to find all the proper supplies in the 5th Ward at a condominium at 1700 E. 56th St., resulting in a late start to voting in the 35th and 41st precincts.
Similarly, the polling place was not fully set up until almost 8 a.m. at Soka Gukkai International USA, 1455 S. Wabash Ave., in the 3rd Ward, slowing voters in the 25th and 39th precincts.
The board kept those four polling places open until 8 p.m., with votes after 7 being considered provisional until being authenticated.
The pilot program allowing same-day registration produced long lines at five city sites. Allen estimated the process was taking two and a half hours at 69 W. Washington. At 10 p.m., people were still voting there and at Welles Park in North Center.
"We're seeing the ultimate in procrastinators," Allen said.
He added that voting had also been slowed by 10 referendums and judicial retention.
"The ballot is really, really long," Allen said, citing how even President Barack Obama had complained about it after voting early on a visit to his hometown last month.
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