Republican Rauner beats Quinn for Illinois governor

By Evan Garcia

Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner speaks to supporters at the Hilton in Chicago after winning the election.
Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner speaks to supporters at the Hilton in Chicago after winning the election.

Bruce Rauner has been elected Illinois’ next governor. After nearly all the votes had been counted, the businessman who promised to “shake up Springfield”  won with just over 50 percent of the vote. He defeated Gov. Pat Quinn who received 45 percent. Libertarian Chad Grimm came away with 3 percent of the vote.

“This is an opportunity to come together on a bipartisan basis to solve the problems and challenges facing the families of Illinois,” Rauner told a ballroom full of raucous supporters. “This is our time.”

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling had Gov. Quinn leading Rauner by 2 percentage points.

Earlier predictions that the third-party candidate Grimm would take votes away from Rauner were dashed. The former private equity investor gained a steady lead on Quinn as the night wore on. Even so, Quinn declined to concede defeat, saying he would wait until all the votes were counted.

Rauner will be the first Illinois Republican governor in more than a decade. The last one, Gov. George Ryan, left office in 2003.

Jim Matyus, 48, said he decided to support Rauner because of his entrepreneurial background. “He made himself successful,” Matyus said. “I think that’s the ultimate goal of everybody out there. I think he’ll do a better job than Quinn.”

For Matyus, a Chicago native, the state’s economic problems hit close to home. He was laid off from his job in medical instrument sales two years ago due to restructuring. “The state of Illinois is hurting,” Matyus said. “I’m a victim of this economy. It’s the worst job market I’ve ever seen. Hospitals can’t afford to buy new equipment. It’s time for something new.”

After an introduction from Lt. Gov.-elect Evelyn Sanguinetti, Rauner took the stage. He spoke of the need for a “booming economy,” a lower tax burden and a “competitive and compassionate” approach to education.

Rauner has long been a proponent of charter schools and has established several organizations such as the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Noble Network of Charter Schools with his wife Diana Rauner, a Democrat who figured prominently in Rauner campaign ads.

Public Policy Polling found Quinn to be one of the most unpopular governors in the country. A meager 31 percent of Illinois voters said they approved of Quinn’s performance.

Rauner will begin his term as governor Jan. 12. Democrats still control both houses of the Illinois legislature.