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 the race to replace Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, state Sen. Kwame Raoul easily beat Republican Erika Harold by 11 points.
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.
Public sector unions, the largest of which has been battling Rauner in the courts over a new contract and the governor’s refusal to pay back wages, also emerged as a winner Tuesday. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31 now will only have to wait until late January to resume contract talks with a much more friendly governor. If they succeed in doing so, the union will have gone Rauner’s entire four-year term without having to have negotiated a contract with him. Several public unions lauded Pritzker's win Tuesday and Democrats gave credit to those groups for helping them get elected.
“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.”
Democrats also made gains in both of the state's legislative chambers.
The next class of state lawmakers will take the oath of office in January. It is expected that Senate President John Cullerton will win another term as Senate President and House Speaker Michael Madigan will continue his reign as the longest-serving state legislative leader in U.S. history.
In federal races, Illinois' Republican congressmen had mixed results.
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, fell to Democratic challenger Sean Casten. U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, beat two challengers in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District. Democratic challenger Lauren Underwood defeated Republican Congressman Randy Hultgren in the 14th Congressional District and Sean Casten beat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam in the 6th Congressional District.