THERE were few surprises Tuesday night as election results were reported across the Land of Lincoln, which saw Democrat J.B. Pritzker handily defeat Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner.
More than 640,000 votes separated the two in what was a landslide victory for the billionaire Pritzker, who claimed 54 percent of the statewide vote. Rauner was done in by four years of gridlock, an unwillingness to compromise on the budget stalemate and perceived mismanagement of the Legionella outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
That, coupled with a suburban electorate eager to turn out to voice their displeasure with President Donald Trump, led to a 15-point blowout for Pritzker, a Democratic sweep of statewide offices and gains in both chambers of the General Assembly. The so-called Blue Wave might not have materialized across the country in the manner some had predicted, but in Illinois, it was thunderous.
That wasn't so across West-Central Illinois, however. In Adams County, Rauner took nearly 66 percent of the vote, down 10 points from his 2014 win, but still an impressive local haul. Republican candidates up and down the ticket here fared well, cementing local GOP dominance. No statewide candidate took any of Adams, Brown Hancock or Pike counties. Only incumbent Secretary of State Jesse White even came close.
Again, there were few surprises.
Plans now are being laid for what comes next. Pritzker has named his transition team and is preparing for what everyone hopes is a smooth transition of power. We offer him our congratulations and hope his administration is successful. We also hope all Illinoisans do the same. Wishing for him to fail is tantamount to prolonging the state's financial suffering, dragging all of us into a deeper hole.
Simply put, if Pritzker fails, Illinois fails. And if Illinois fails, we all fail. We do not want that to happen.
Looking back at the campaign, we are heartened by many of the things we saw from Pritzker. On several occasions, he endorsed rebuilding the Veterans Home here. With his victory an all-but-foregone conclusion, he still spent a great deal of time downstate, particularly in this region. He stood to gain little politically doing this, but he knew it was the right thing to do.
During his visits, he was briefed by the Great River Economic Development Foundation on the region's industrial base and the need to make Ill. 57 a four-lane highway to facilitate further growth. He also learned of the need for a new bridge to span the Mississippi River at Quincy and for that span to be integrated into the road and highway system here.
Most importantly, he saw the pride we all take in our Midwestern values.
While some decried the lack of details to many of Pritzker's proposals, we were encouraged by his notion the problems facing the state will take multifaceted solutions. He said repeatedly he looks forward to negotiations and compromise to find a path forward for the state. There will be no simple solutions, he told us.
We applaud Rauner, who in his concession speech Tuesday night, called on the state to come together.
"This is a time for us to unite," he said. "This is a time for us to put aside partisan politics, to move forward together as the citizens of Illinois to create a better future for our children and our grandchildren."
In claiming victory, Pritzker spoke of bridging divides.
"Who we are is how we overcome our biggest challenges," he told supporters.
It's our profound hope Illinoisans of all political stripes remember this and work to move this great state forward and rise once again to meet the challenges before us.
"Ladies and gentleman, rise we will," Pritzker promised on election night.
Let's all pray that we do.