In a high-stakes, high price-tag election, JB Pritzker overwhelmingly won the top seat in Illinois, causing incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner to concede within one hour of the polls closing on Tuesday night.
This election was a long race that was not without major controversies—with nasty ads from both major party candidates. This governor’s election was also called the most expensive gubernatorial race in U.S. history, with both major candidates spending millions and millions of their own money on their campaigns. But Pritzker, who spent the most, prevailed and brought a blue wave throughout the state’s races. Many key offices will now have Democrats in office.
Along with the blue wave comes more diversity in Springfield. Pritzker’s running mate, Juliana Stratton, becomes the first Black lieutenant governor. And for the first time in Illinois history, a Black person will be attorney general. Kwame Raoul won against Republican Erika Harold, who is also African American. Secretary of State Jesse White was re-elected along with Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who came under controversy toward the end of the election because she was rumored to be looking at a run for Mayor Chicago.
The Democrats pulled out all of the stops to win this election, even including former President Barack Obama in a rally days before the election.
In his election night victory speech, Pritzker wished Governor Bruce Rauner well and thanked the people of Illinois for their “faith in Juliana and me.”
He shared a story about the beginning of the campaign journey when he announced his candidacy in April 2017 in Grand Crossing. He said it reminded him that we have “no right to walk away from the broken places of our past without” figuring out how to fix them. He saluted Grand Crossing for building itself from broken places. And he saluted immigrants, people of color, women and more as bearers of light as he spoke to cheering supporters gathered at the Marriott Marquis.
“History shapes your future; sometimes the happiest moments of your life wouldn’t have been possible without the worst moments of your life.”
He ended his speech with a question he said he’s asked throughout the campaign: “Are you ready for the fight? The fight for healthcare for everyone, for well-paid teachers and a quality education for our kids, for equal pay for equal work, the fight for a criminal justice system that is truly just….for a responsible state budget…for jobs…for a state that welcomes immigrants and for the truth. Are you ready to fight for Illinois?”
On election night, Incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner asked Illinois to pull together.
“It is time to come together,” he told the crowd at his election night event right around 8 p.m. “It is time to put aside partisan politics and move forward as citizens of Illinois…to create a better future for our children and grandchildren.”
Rauner went on to say, “Mr. Pritzker, I hope and pray you serve Illinois well and I look forward to assisting in a smooth transition.”
In his acceptance speech, Kwame Raoul responded to President Trump and reminded him that Haiti was not a “sh**hole country. The attorney general-elect saluted his 90-year-old mother, a Haitian native, who stood by his side as he talked about his late father’s legacy and his commitment to affordable and accessible healthcare.
In another historic race, Lauren Underwood (D) was declared the winner against incumbent Randy Hultgren (R) for Illinois 14th Congressional District, which covers parts of Will, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. At 32, Underwood will be the youngest African American in Congress. She vowed to use Shirley Chisholm’s motto of “unbought and unbossed” to represent her district.