Meanwhile, Quinn coasted to a win in his own primary, beating
anti-violence activist Tio Hardiman. Preliminary results by Reuters
U.S. Election Service had Quinn leading Hardiman about 72 percent to
Republicans are looking to Illinois as perhaps the party's best shot
to take out a Democratic incumbent governor. Despite low popularity
ratings and Illinois' continuing fiscal problems, Quinn is expected
to emerge as a formidable candidate with strong support from the
state's labor unions.
"I've been in a lot of tough fights," Quinn said in his victory
speech. "Illinois is making a comeback and we know we have a lot
more work to do. That's why we're here today. We have work to do on
behalf of everyday people."
Rauner, a wealthy businessman who has already pumped $6 million of
his own money into the campaign, topped his three Republican rivals
with about 40 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results
by Reuters U.S. Election Service.
His closest rival, State Senator Kirk Dillard, followed with about
38 percent of the vote.
In his own victory speech, Rauner called Quinn a failure and
promised a Republican victory in November.
"Let's bring back Illinois. What that means is we want to restore
the opportunity, the quality of life for every family in our state,"
Election officials reported low turnout throughout the day.
Voters in the home state of President Barack Obama have chosen a
Democratic governor in every election since 2002.
Meanwhile, in the Republican primary to take on veteran U.S. Senator
Dick Durbin in November — the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate — Illinois State Senator Jim Oberweis, the millionaire owner of a
dairy business defeated businessman and political newcomer Doug
Truax for the Republican nomination.
"The state is in deep trouble. Our country is in deep trouble,"
Oberweis said in a victory speech.
[to top of second column]
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PARTISANS
Democrats and Republicans alike are expecting a tough and expensive
contest five years after Quinn took over from Rod Blagojevich, a
fellow Democrat who is now in federal prison on corruption charges.
"Illinois will be one of the primary focuses of traditional
Republican groups and groups that are interested in conservative
economic policy," said Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of
political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
"This is an opportunity to flip a state from Democrat to
Rauner has used his considerable campaign war chest to buy a blitz
of radio and TV ads that have helped him build his name recognition
and push him past three more experienced opponents — Dillard, State
Senator Bill Brady and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Rauner has steered clear of social issues and focused on Illinois'
troubled economy. He has also criticized other lawmakers, including
Dillard, for taking union money.
Even before all the returns were in, Quinn was already running a TV
ad against Rauner blasting him for saying that he was against
raising the minimum wage. Rauner later modified his position.
"Quinn wasn't expected to win last time, but the groundswell of
support from labor unions and regular folks who like him sort of
surprised people," said Dick Simpson, a political science professor
at University of Illinois-Chicago.
(Editing by Edith Honan and Lisa Shumaker)
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