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Rauner had weakest primary showing by a GOP governor since 1928

Thursday, Mar 22, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* By Dr. Eric Ostermeier, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota

With votes yet to be counted from just a few dozen precincts, the well-funded Rauner managed to eke out a 2.76-point renomination victory over Ives with more than half of his winning margin coming from the heavily-populated Cook County. […]

Overall, Rauner’s 2.76-point win was the fourth weakest performance by a Democratic or Republican incumbent out of the 23 Illinois primaries with a sitting governor on the ballot since the first primary in the state in 1908 – with no elected governor enduring a closer call in a primary win than Rauner.

The other three weakest primary showings for a governor in Illinois electoral history were turned in by:

    * 1928: Two-term Republican Governor Len Small lost the GOP primary by 26.0 points to three-term Illinois Secretary of State Louis Emerson. Small would launch two more failed gubernatorial campaigns, losing the 1932 general election to judge Henry Horner and the 1936 primary to attorney C. Wayland Brooks.
    * 1976: One-term Democratic Governor Dan Walker was defeated in the primary by Illinois Secretary of State Michael Howlett by 7.6 points.
    * 2010: Democratic Governor Pat Quinn (who became governor after succeeding Rod Blagojevich who had been removed from office) nipped three-term Comptroller Dan Hynes by 1- point in the primary.

In addition to Small, Walker, and Quinn, the only other sitting Illinois governor to receive a smaller share of the primary vote than Rauner was two-term incumbent Charles Deneen in 1912.

Deneen won 34.8 percent of the vote that cycle, but in an eight-candidate field – winning the contest by 14.6 points over Small in what was his first of six gubernatorial bids. Rauner’s only opponent on Tuesday was Representative Ives.

Rauner’s 51.38 percent vote share and 2.76-point win are the weakest primary showings by a GOP governor in the state out of the 10 such candidacies since Governor Small’s loss in 1928.

       

14 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 9:44 am:

    Rich may be right that it was worth half a million to the DGA just to see Rauner squirm, but they were also kicking hard on an established fissure in the Republican party. By running up Ives’s vote count, hard right conservatives are emboldened and less likely to coalesce without a fight. Savvy move on both scores.


  2. - Norseman - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 9:44 am:

    Rauner rebellion repulsed - barely. Your exodus to Italy will have to wait a few more months.


  3. - Centennial - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 9:48 am:

    We all knew running up to Tuesday that Rauner wouldn’t have an easy victory. These numbers (and dates) really put it into perspective though. Seems like we only get a Gov as bad as Rauner about once in a generation.


  4. - People Over Parties - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 9:49 am:

    I’m curious to know what gave Rauner the final edge. Money? Name recognition? Ives too far-right?


  5. - Arsenal - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 9:51 am:

    ==I’m curious to know what gave Rauner the final edge.==

    When it’s that close, it’s everything. Had Ives not run “that” ad, she probably woulda won. Had Uhlien come through with another check. Had Rauner slept on the race for one more day.


  6. - Leigh John-Ella - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:00 am:

    See Bruce, your win was historic.


  7. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:02 am:

    Always interesting when Len Small pops up. Truly the Gold Standard of Illinois political corruption.

    Lots of gold. Somehow, he laundered it and set up his heirs for generations with clean money.


  8. - Practical Politics - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:05 am:

    Len Small of Kankakee was singularly corrupt and trying to buck tradition in Illinois by seeking a third term. With the exceptions of Richard J. Olgesby (three non-consecutive terms — one incomplete as Oglesby left for the US Senate) and James R. Thompson, Illinois has a tradition of not supporting governors for three terms. Witness Deneen, Small, Green and Stratton.

    Rauner needs to get an Italian/English dictionary.


  9. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:13 am:

    What drivel coming from a lefty collectivist. Bruce V. Rauner got a higher percentage of the votes than he did when he won the Governorship. His mandate is growing. /s


  10. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:33 am:

    There was a hot Democratic primary.

    There was only one candidate with marginal funding, no campaign manager and little organization versus an incumbent governor spending millions.

    The incumbent won by less than 3%.

    It’s a very poor “win”. Pretty much a reputiation. Imagin Blago beating E2 by that amount. That is what Rauner did.

    Rauner is a lame duck, a walking zombie.


  11. - A Jack - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 10:39 am:

    Small has the distinction of being the first Illinois Governor to be arrested. Some historians consider Small to be worse than Blagojevich as far as corruption goes.


  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 12:06 pm:

    –Some historians consider Small to be worse than Blagojevich as far as corruption goes.–

    It’s not even close. Small was at it much longer and he was way better at it in the GA, as Treasurer and as Governor.

    Stole state funds, bought off jurors, sold pardons and paroles to hundreds of real Illinois mafia gangsters.

    He laundered a fortune that sustained his heirs for generations. Blago, not so much.


  13. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:01 pm:

    What’s the early spread for November?


  14. - ste_with_a_v_en - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    And Quinn still managed to pull a victory in November. We will see if Rauner pulls of an inverse.


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