House Speaker Michael Madigan, with an open spigot of resources from billionaire Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, regained his supermajority in the Illinois House. Democrats in the state Senate added to a supermajority.
It is, then, a rough time to be an Illinois Republican.
Gov. Bruce Rauner conceded his race early in the evening, thanking voters and urging unity. "This is a time to unite. This is a time for us to put aside partisan politics to move forward together as citizens of Illinois to create a better future for our children and grandchildren."
Republicans not only lost the governor's office. They lost every statewide race including attorney general; their rising hopes for their candidate, Erika Harold, fell short as she lost to Democrat Kwame Raoul. Those legislative results further weakened them. And they'll have no leverage over a new redistricting map that Democrats will draw and which will set the stage for more winnable Democratic districts for 10 more years.
What's an Illinois Republican Party to do? Recoil and tremble? Or unite and rebuild?
Here's the first step: Mend the fracture between establishment and conservative Republicans -- Rauner supporters and those who backed his primary opponent, Rep. Jeanne Ives -- and begin the rebuilding process. Find common ground and bury old grudges. Coalesce around new, fresh leadership in the House and Senate.
The talent is there. House and Senate members who managed to fend off challengers -- Sens. Neil Anderson of Andalusia and John Curran of Downers Grove, along with Reps. Mark Batinick of Plainfield, Tom Morrison of Palatine, Tom Demmer of Dixon, Grant Wehrli of Naperville, to name a few -- will have to retread this party. And they'll have to do it without worrying about the next election. Don't go weak. Go big -- that is, as big as a minority party can go. Give the people of Illinois fresh ideas for fixing this state's government and economy.
The Democrats won resoundingly in Illinois due in large part to anti-President Donald Trump sentiment that invigorated turnout, not just for Statehouse races but for congressional contests too. And due to draining population, the state of Illinois is likely to lose at least one congressional seat during the next remap process.
If they want to rebound, Republicans here have no choice but to unite and rebuild. Taxpayers deserve a two-party, more balanced government. Outside the Chicago area, voters overwhelmingly supported the GOP. The map is red. But the population density of Chicago and its surrounding, Democrat-leaning suburbs overwhelm the numbers across the rest of the state. It's a longstanding frustration of residents who live outside the metro area. But for a relative few (but populous) blue counties, Illinois would be a crimson state.
The GOP can have its comeback. The process will be a grind. Given the lingering hard feelings between conservatives and the more moderate establishment, even agreeing on leadership post-Rauner will be grueling. But the infighting that has pitted Republicans against one another needs to stop.
On Tuesday, that intramural acrimony within the GOP helped the Democrats. But Tuesday is history. Republicans, stop the self-destruction. Unify. Rebuild. Start now.
-- Chicago Tribune