Bruce Rauner woke up Wednesday as Illinois’ next governor. The night before, his campaign held an election party in the International Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago.
The event was flanked by members of the media as supporters and staffers danced the night away. Gubernatorial polls published Sunday showed Rauner in a dead heat with Governor Pat Quinn, but backers had no doubt that Rauner would win. They crescendoed to rapturous applause once the earliest call in Rauner’s favor came in just after 8 p.m. by NBC.
Supporters came from all walks of life. From investment executives to homemakers, they were there to cheer on their Republican businessman-turned-politician. While their candidate didn’t offer specifics on how to tackle the state’s challenges, they left around midnight with the hope of a fresh start.
The press gears up for Bruce Rauner’s election party Tuesday night at the Hilton Chicago.
Ken Andersen, who works in private equity, and Brian Timpone, a media entrepreneur, arrived early to show their support for Rauner. “Everyone is saying it’ll be exciting. It’ll be exciting when we win,” Andersen said.
Paula Cacossa brought her sons Brandon and Noah to the event. “I wanted to show my children how the political process works. There’s so much apathy in politics, but we can be a part of the change to better our government,” Cacossa said.
Paula, Brandon and Noah Cacossa.
Attendees loosen up with some libation in the Hilton’s International Ballroom.
Supporters watch as midterm election results across the country trickle in.
By 8 p.m., the ballroom was packed.
Lisa Gleason, a trader, volunteered by calling voters for Rauner’s campaign. “I want change in Illinois. I’m hoping a businessperson might help with that,” Gleason said.
At 10:30 p.m., Rauner led Quinn by four percent of the votes counted.
Supporters react to reports projecting Rauner the winner. Rauner, meanwhile, was awaiting a concession call from Governor Quinn that was never made that night.
Illinois’ next lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, introduces Rauner. Sanguinetti will be the state’s first Hispanic lieutenant governor.
Rauner takes the stage, following his wife Diana, to deliver his acceptance speech.
The governor-elect acknowledged that the state was in bad economic shape. “We will not accept the status quo. We are going in a new direction,” Rauner said.
Rauner and his family wave farewell to supporters following his speech.