Illinois Gov. Quinn narrowly defeats GOP opponent

The Associated Press
Thursday, November 4, 2010; 9:00 PM

CHICAGO -- Election results still trickling in Thursday made it clear Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn won his extremely close bid for a full term, allowing him to avoid the fate of other Democratic governors across the country and adding pressure on his Republican challenger to concede.

An Associated Press analysis of uncounted votes from absentee and other ballots showed that Bill Brady, a state senator from Bloomington, won't be able to overcome the just more than 19,400-vote lead Quinn held with 100 percent of the state's precincts reporting.

"I think the people of Illinois know I won the election," Quinn said at a Chicago deli where he thanked voters and called his lead over Brady "insurmountable."

But Brady said he wasn't giving up.

"There's a number of votes that have yet to be counted - military, absentee and others," Brady told reporters in Springfield, the state capital. "We're going to deal with all the data that's there, and we'll then deal with the decision-making process as we gather data."

State officials have until Dec. 3 to certify all results.

Brady spokeswoman Patty Schuh said despite the AP calling the election for Quinn, Brady would press ahead gathering information about uncounted absentee and provisional ballots. But Schuh acknowledged the campaign did not have a specific scenario that would produce a victory.

Close elections aren't new for Brady. He squeaked out a Republican primary win in February by fewer than 200 votes and was not officially declared the winner until more than a month later. Tuesday's election was the closest governor's contest since 1982, when incumbent Republican Jim Thompson defeated Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson by 5,074 votes.

Unofficial results compiled by The Associated Press showed Brady trailing Quinn by a margin of about half a percentage point in an election where 3.6 million ballots were cast. That's a tiny difference, but there was no way Brady could make it up, the AP analysis found.

Thousands of provisional ballots were cast in Tuesday's election, but experts say few of those will end up being declared valid. And if they are, most come from Cook County, a Quinn stronghold.

There also are tens of thousands of absentee ballots that were sent to voters and haven't been returned, as well as some that have been returned but not counted yet.

Republicans have said privately that Brady had only an uphill chance of prevailing when he didn't come out ahead on Election Day. Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who finished second to Brady in the primary, called the 19,000-vote split a "steep hurdle" for him.

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