Unlike Pat Quinn, I will concede that my rather persistent prediction of Bruce Rauner’s impending downfall was a wee bit wrong. And I’m even more surprised the challenger won by 3 full points. Apparently Governor Quinn’s failure to appear on Left, Right and You cost him the election!
When you consider the scant margin he managed to eke out in 2010, Quinn really needs to do the right thing and concede. Why ruin your reasonable reputation by being a dick in your final political act?
Truth be told, I was in good company with Nate Silver’s 538 blog prophesying the very same outcome. Given the circumstances, if I had to make that call all over again, I most certainly would. On a more visceral level, perhaps it’s as simple as Mr. Quinn’s amazing good fortune finally running out.
But despite that gubernatorial victory, there was certainly no Republican surge in the state of Illinois.
The two Constitutional Amendments and three Advisory Questions – all decidedly liberal in leaning – passed by huge margins. The evening’s biggest surprise had to be the comptroller race where, despite polls putting her up by as much as 33 points, Judy Barr-Topinka nearly lost to Democrat Sheila Simon.
Almost as remarkably, the Treasurer’s race is still too close to call with “sure thing” Tom Cross leading challenger Michael Frerichs by a slim 8,500 votes with 19 precincts and a scad of absentee ballots yet to be counted.
So now, Mr. Rauner, who’s used to getting his was at every turn, suddenly has to contend with a Springfield Democratic supermajority that he’s dissed at every recent turn. Proving my prognosticative failure hasn’t deterred me in the least, I’m predicting that Cullerton and Madigan will eat him alive so that Lisa can stroll through the mansion front door in four short years.
And then the surprises stopped.
Dick Durbin dispatched Jim Oberweis, but that 10 point margin was a bit closer than many pundits expected (including me). One has to wonder if the current iteration of Jim Oberweis could’ve won some of those earlier races. All that said, I firmly believe this was Jim’s last campaign.
Don Kramer easily bested Democratic challenger Willie Mayes in the Kane County Sheriff’s race and you can bet your sweet bippie that Larry Jones and I will hold him to his Left, Right and You no retribution vow. Running the Sheriff’s office is one of the toughest challenges in any county and experienced friends like Willie and Kevin Williams are often the difference between success and failure.
Bill Foster did away with Darlene Senger, Tammy Duckworth beat Larry Kaifesh, Randy Hultgren torched Dennis Anderson, Keith Wheeler trounced Valerie Burd, and Stephanie Kifowit destroyed Krishna Bansal.
While Senger and Kaifesh mounted capable campaigns and didn’t lose by too much, given their lackluster electoral efforts, I don’t understand why Anderson, Burd and Bansal bothered to run. Their combined margin of defeat was a dismal 80 percent!
Though he worked his butt clean off, Jeff Meyer couldn’t crest that steeply Democratic 43rd District State Rep hill and he lost to Anna Moeller by 20 points. Thankfully, as Larry and I frequently pointed out on the show, there are no losers in that district because both candidates were exceptional individuals.
I fervently hope that, next round, Jeff picks a race he can win. Taking on Deb Allen in the 12th Kane County Board district and then Anna Moeller in the 43rd is the very definition of tilting at windmills. If Jeff loses another race, that branding may well make it difficult for him to finally win one.
Had Ramiro Juarez put on any kind of meaningful 44th District State Rep campaign, he actually would’ve beaten slimy Democrat Fred Crespo. Please pay heed GOP! With the right candidate, you can win this one in two years.
And lastly, there were no real Kane County Board surprises though I certainly hope Kurt Kojzarek aims a bit higher the next time he runs.
So here are the things I took away from last night:
1. Illinois Democrats beware! By electing Bruce Rauner – but not completely rolling over to the Republican side – voters fired a clear warning shot. If the Democrats don’t fix the pension problem, there will be more electoral casualties.
2. Negative ads aren’t workin’ anymore! The best example of this new dynamic is Michael Frerichs who’s generally positive campaign put him in that virtual dead heat. One can only wonder if his final anti-Tom Cross push hurt him in the end.
3. The Illinois (and national) electorate is becoming more liberal with every breath (pun intended). Pot is now legal in Oregon and Washington D.C., the same-sex marriage question is well behind us, and, if you told me that the Illinois minimum wage Advisory Question would get 70 percent of the vote, I would’ve told your significant other to lock up the liquor cabinet – or to stop visiting Oregon.
As any stock market aficionado will tell you, it always pays to ignore the intermediate swings and focus on those long term investments. Conservatives need to prove they can do more than simply obstruct or they won’t likely get another chance to govern.
4. Good ground games still win elections!
5. I owe Tim Elenz lunch all because of that dastardly Bruce Rauner!
We’ll cover all this and more on the radio show on Thursday!