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In Illinois GOP primary, Rauner Wins Tight Race For Governor While Oberweis Takes Senate Nod

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Wealthy businessmanBruce Rauner narrowly won Illinois’ Republican primary for governor, with final returns Tuesday night showing him hovering around 40 percent of the vote in the four-way contest.

Rauner, 57,  is reported to have set an Illinois record by spending $6 million of his own money. By most accounts, he is believed to be a billionaire prepared to inject even more of his own cash into his campaign.

Despite Rauner's heavy spending, state Sen. Kirk Dillard ended up a very close second, losing by only about 20,000 votes.  Trailing far behind were state Sen. Bill Brady and Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Dillard had gotten a last-minute boost from public-employee unions, who were upset over the anti-labor tone of Rauner's ads.

Gov. Pat Quinn was handily capturing the Democratic nomination, attracting close to three-quarters of the primary vote.

Soon after Rauner's apparent victory, the Democratic Governors Association went on the attack, calling him "an out-of-touch, right-wing billionaire who has spent his entire career profiting off of the struggles of hard-working people."

Rauner, 57, a first-time candidate from Chicago's North Shore suburbs. The Chicago Tribunecharacterized Rauner's campaign as employing "a decidedly anti-government union theme alleging the state workforce has been featherbedded and overpaid. He’s also called for an end to tenure for public school teachers and making even stricter changes for public pensions beyond a new law Quinn signed late last year."

In Illinois’ other marquee contest, for the U.S. Senate, dairy businessman Jim Oberweis won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. While Oberweis had greater name recognition and outspent his GOP opponent Doug Truax,  the Chicago Tribune reported that "Truax, a first-time candidate, ran more strongly than some had predicted."

The Springfield Journal Register reported that Oberweis, who had promised he would serve no more than two terms in the Senate if elected, said he hopes to help the GOP retake control of the U.S. Senate to “change the direction of this country.”

Oberweis will face Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin, who was unopposed in his primary.
The only other Illinois statewide race was for Illinois treasurer, where Republican Tom Cross appeared to winning his party’s nomination. He’ll face Democrat Michael Frerichs, who was unopposed, in the fall.

In the downstate congressional contests, two incumbents – Republican John Shimkus of Collinsville, who represents the 15th District, and Democrat Bill Enyart of Belleville, in the 12th – were unopposed in their primaries.

In the 13th District, Republican incumbent Rodney Davis appears to have successfully knocked off two challengers, including former Miss America Erika Harold.  The GOP nominee will face Democrat Ann Callis in the fall; Callis, a former Madison County judge,  handily defeated two rivals.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.