Suburbs help push Pritzker to victory

  • Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton celebrate their win Tuesday night at the Marriott Marquis Chicago.

      Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton celebrate their win Tuesday night at the Marriott Marquis Chicago. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Updated 11/7/2018 12:46 AM

Suburban voters -- a crucial block for first-time Gov. Bruce Rauner four years ago -- helped catapult political rookie and Democrat J.B. Pritzker into office Tuesday.

After an acidic campaign, the Democrat reached out to disillusioned voters in his victory speech.


"Voting is an act of optimism that the levers of democracy still work," Pritzker said. "We recognize that there is grace and pride in the struggle to rise and rise we will."

With tallies still coming, unofficial results showed Pritzker leading in DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will and suburban Cook counties. All but Cook went for Rauner in 2014.

While Democrats were largely unified, the disconnect between moderate Rauner, who supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and conservative Republicans came home to roost, GOP organizers said.

In suburban Cook, tallies were 471,841 for Pritzker and 259,915 for the governor, with 91 percent of precincts counted.

One reason is "Rauner lost his base because of House Bill 40," Palatine Township Republican Organization Committeeman Aaron Del Mar said, referring to a bill allowing state funding for abortion.

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In Lake County, results showed Pritzker with 66,817 votes and Rauner with 63,817.

Suburban women "between 25 and 40 were uncomfortable with (President Donald) Trump's language and behavior," said former Democratic state Sen. Bill Morris of Grayslake. "That and (General Assembly) gridlock played to (Pritzker's) advantage."

In DuPage County, Pritzker led by 166,221 votes to 162,117 for Rauner with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

"He was pretty much doomed from the primary," said state Rep. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, who called the election "a referendum on Rauner." Conservative Republican Ives took on Rauner and lost in the primary in March but won DuPage. "Rauner never had his base," she said.

McHenry County was the lone collar county where Rauner was dominant Tuesday with 48,643 votes to Pritzker's 36,398 with 99 percent of precincts counted, a 53 percent to 40 percent contrast. Reaching above 38 percent "is huge for us," McHenry County Democratic Organization Chairwoman Kristin Zahorik.

An X Factor -- political neophytes shocked at Trump's win in 2016 volunteering for the Democrats -- also turned the governor's mansion blue, Zahorik said.

"A woman who identified as Republican for years came up to us and said, 'I just feel this doesn't represent who I am and who we are as a country."

In Kane County, Pritzker had 79,319 votes and Rauner tallied 76,405 with 97 percent of precincts reporting. In Will County, the governor had 106,402 votes compared to Pritzker's 120,601.

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