GLEN ELLYN, Illinois — State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) conceded the gubernatorial primary to incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner just after 10:30 p.m. Central time– after coming tantalizingly close to an upset victory.
Ives, who began the race as a virtual unknown, and trailed Rauner by more than 44% in January, surged in the last several weeks and lost 51.7% to 48.3% — less than 4% behind the wealthy, self-funding incumbent who had the party establishment on his side. (Update: late results had Ives losing 51.4% to 48.6% — just 2.8% behind Rauner.)
“Today, the popular revolt against the political ruling class fell just a bit short,” Ives told a packed crowd of supporters at the Abbington Banquet Hall. “But I am very proud.”
Ives beat all the polls — including her own internal polling, which showed her within 7 points late last week.
A half hour earlier, Rauner took the podium at his own victory party to declare that he had won — even though none of the major news networks had called the race.
“This primary election was hard fought,” Rauner said, congratulating his opponent.
He may have felt provoked to act when Ives’s running mate, State Rep. Rich Morthland (R-Cordova), told supporters just before 10:00 that she would not concede because there were still many votes to count in the “collar counties,” the traditionally Republican counties that ring Democrat-dominated Cook County, where Chicago site.
In her speech, Ives committed herself to continuing to build the conservative movement in Illinois.
“We proved the grassroots cannot be taken advantage of. That’s what we proved tonight,” she said.
There was little love lost in the room for Rauner, who will struggle to unify the party ahead of the November general election.
On the Democratic side, billionaire J.B. Pritzker won an easy victory over State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and businessman Chris Kennedy — but he failed to win a majority of his party’s vote.
Elsewhere, former Miss America Erika Harold, a Harvard Law graduate, won the Republican primary for attorney general — her first primary win since an unsuccessful campaign for Congress several years ago.
Pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski (D-IL) seemed to have held on narrowly against left-wing primary challenger Marie Newman in the closely-watched third congressional district.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.