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Deeper shade of blue: 5 things we learned from Tuesday's election in Illinois

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Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, right, looks at supporters after defeating Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The stage is set for the next two years of state and federal politics after Tuesday's seismic midterm election.

From Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker to a shift toward Democrats nationwide, these five results will help determine what campaign promises become laws and policy through 2020 and beyond:

Illinois governor

Democrat Pritzker, a billionaire who campaigned on moving Illinois past the political bitterness of the past four years, was easily elected governor over Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, declaring, "We make no small plans."

With 99 percent of the vote in, the race was not close: Pritzker earned 2,356,991 votes, or 54 percent; Rauner tallied 1,716,331, or 39 percent.

Good morning. Missed last night's vote count? We'll bring you up to speed.

Pritzker, the 53-year-old heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune who largely self-financed a campaign for his first elective office, rode to victory on the unpopularity of an incumbent whose legacy will be his role in a record-long budget standoff with a Democratic-controlled Legislature and growing unpopularity among the GOP base.

A focal point of debate was taxes. Pritzker promises to overhaul the state's income-tax system to allow for a graduated tax rate that requires the wealthy to pay more. But he says the specific rates would be a matter for negotiations with the Legislature.

By far, this will be the central legislative issue after Pritzker takes office in January. Legalizing recreational marijuana also could be be a top priority.

Statewide races

Democrats also cleaned up in other statewide races, welcoming Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul to a group that includes Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Secretary of State Jesse White and Treasurer Mike Frerichs, all of whom won on Tuesday.

Raoul, who was appointed to the state Senate in 2004 to replace the U.S. Senate-bound Barack Obama, has pledged to fight President Trump and his policies as attorney general.

"We reject the hate that has come from Donald Trump," he told supporters at a victory party in Chicago after winning the office being vacated by Democrat Lisa Madigan.

Frerichs ran against Republican Jim Dodge and Libertarian Michael Leheney. The position safeguards and invests state money.

The question for Mendoza, it seems, is whether she'll stay in the comptroller's office or make a run for mayor of Chicago. Video leaked last week of Mendoza announcing a mayoral bid, though her camp said it doesn't mean she's running.

Illinois Statehouse

Three Republican state legislators representing a large swath of Central Illinois fended off Democratic challengers on Tuesday, but are nonetheless part of a newly weakened state GOP after the a few flipped seats gave House Speaker Mike Madigan his "supermajority" back.

Dan Brady of Bloomington, Keith Sommer of Morton and were re-elected, while another Republican, Dan Caulkins of Decatur, earned a Statehouse seat succeeding retiring state Rep. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth. 

Democrat Sue Scherer of Decatur easily won re-election from the 96th House District.

Trump celebrates GOP gains, threatens House Democrats

The "supermajority" means Madigan has enough votes to override gubernatorial vetoes that could give him more power over Pritzker.

Three Republican state senators from Central Illinois were re-elected as well: Bill Brady, Jason Barickman and Chapin Rose, who all ran unopposed. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, also cruised to re-election.

U.S. House

Central Illinois' federal legislators fared well, too, but also came away with less power after Tuesday.

Republican congressmen Rodney Davis, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood and John Shimkus were all re-elected, but find themselves in the minority party after Democrats regained the U.S. House in decisive fashion.

LaHood and Kinzinger won easily, but Davis had to hang on to win by 2 percentage points over Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, who had not conceded as of Wednesday morning.

Other national results

While Democrats regained control of the House from the Republicans, the GOP added to their edge in the U.S. Senate and prevailed in some key governor's races.

All in all, Republicans beat back the potential of big Democrat gains across the board. The "blue wave" that some feared never fully materialized.

The mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Trump's presidency showed the limits of his hard-line immigration rhetoric in today's political landscape, where college-educated voters in the suburbs rejected his warnings of a migrant "invasion."

But blue-collar voters and rural America continued to embrace his aggressive talk and positions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh


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