In Illinois governor's race, absentee votes may be the key
While Republican Mark Kirk (left) celebrated his victory in the Senate, taking Barack Obama's former seat, incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn held his small lead over GOP challenger Bill Brady. Republican strategists were doing the math on whether there are enough absentee ballots left to make up the deficit of more than 8,300 votes with nearly all the votes counted. | Chicago Tribune
Our earlier story:
Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat has switched parties with Republican Mark Kirk (left) deafeating Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.
Incumbent Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn was doing better than Giannoulias. He was clinging to a minuscule lead over Republican Bill Brady in the Illinois gubernatorial race.
In two other statewide races, Democrats held sway. Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White both declared victory tonight over their underfunded Republican opponents, Steve Kim and Robert Enriquez respectively.Â Republicans were set to take over the state treasurer's office with state Sen. Dan Rutherford leading Democrat Robin Kelly, 50 to 45 percent with 97 percent of the vote counted.
Republican Judy Baar Topinka has taken the comptroller's office.
Incumbent members of Congress from the Metro East, Jerry Costello (left), a Democrat, and John Shimkus (right), a Republican, seemed to be rolling to easy victories in their races. But Phil Hare, a two-term Democrat from Rock Island, appeared headed to defeat at the hands of Republican Bobby Schilling. Schilling was leading 53.5 percent to Hare's 42 percent with more than 80 percent of the vote counted.
In one of the most hotly contested - and expensive -- Illinois House races, Republican challenger Dwight Kay was leading incumbent Democrat Rep. Jay Hoffman of Collinsville 52-48 percent with only 13 percent of the vote still to be counted.
Spending in that race topped $1 million. Hoffman had raised nearly twice the money Kay had for the race, but Kay appeared headed for victory.
The Belleville News-Democrat reported that the fundraising ranked eight among this year's legislative races in Illinois.
Unlike many Republican candidates across the country Kirk (right), 51, ran as a centrist, proclaiming himself a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. He also offered himself as a candidate with experience, having served as a congressman from Illinois and a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. His resume also includes many years as a Navy Reserve officer, though that item was a double-edged sword for Kirk who was forced to apologize for inflating his military record, including claims that he came under fire in Iraq and that he ran the Pentagon's war room.
Giannoulis (left), 34, had problems of his own as a candidate. Though he had experience as a community activist (like Obama) and a philanthropist, banker and state treasurer, it was his banking ties that caused him the most trouble. His family ran the now-defunct Broadway Bank that lent millions of dollars to convicted Chicago crime figures. Giannoulias was a senior loan officer at that time.
A very unusual situation in Illinois has the Senate candidates run for the lame duck session and for a full term. With about 75 percent of the vote counted, Kirk was leading for the full term, but Giannoulias was ahead for the lame-duck seat.
Quinn has been governor for just 21 months after taking over from ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Quinn's tenure was widely criticized as he failed to deal effectively with the state's budget crisis. Brady said he would bring a business like approach to his administration, but his own business -- real estate development -- has had debt problems of its own. Unlike Kirk, Brady is a conservative on social issues, including being an opponent of abortion.
Contact Beacon contributing editor Richard Weiss.