SPRINGFIELD — More than a month after voters went to the polls, state Sen. Bill Brady was formally declared the winner Friday in the hard-fought Republican primary for governor.
With little fanfare, the Illinois State Board of Elections said the Bloomington real estate developer had beaten his closest rival, state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, by a whisker-thin margin of 193 votes.
The results of the virtual photo-finish have been in question since the Feb. 2 primary saw Brady leading by 420 votes in unofficial returns.
In an announcement Friday afternoon, Dillard said he would not challenge the results, which amount to a less than two-votes-per-county difference between the two Republicans.
Dillard had threatened to call for a recount had the margin been less than 100 votes. In a statement, he said he would fully back Brady’s bid to win back the Governor’s Mansion after eight years of Democratic rule.
“It was a hard-fought race, and it was close,” Dillard said. “But it is now clear to me that my friend and colleague Bill Brady has won the Illinois Republican primary for governor.”
According to the state board’s tally, Brady received 155,527 votes in the seven-way GOP race.
Dillard received 155,334, followed by Andy McKenna with 148,054 votes. Others in the race included Jim Ryan, Adam Andrzejewski, Dan Proft and Bob Schillerstrom.
Brady, who won based on the strength of a near sweep of downstate counties, now heads into the general election to face off against Democrat Pat Quinn of Chicago and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, an attorney from Carbondale.
Quinn, who was elevated to governor last year after the ouster of Rod Blagojevich, defeated his challenger, Comptroller Dan Hynes, by 8,372 votes, according to the state board’s final numbers.
Quinn issued a statement criticizing Brady’s conservative stances on issues ranging from abortion to minimum wage.
“He may represent the extreme fringe of the right-wing, but he certainly does not represent the people of Illinois,” Quinn’s statement said.
In a news conference in Chicago, Brady criticized Quinn for wanting to raise taxes during an economic downturn.
“Gov. Quinn is dead wrong on this issue,” said Brady, who wants to pull the state out of its budget mess by cutting spending.
On Monday, Brady has scheduled an eight-stop statewide fly-around to kick off his general election campaign. One of the stops will be in the Quad-Cities.
He will wind up the day in Bloomington, at the same hotel where he and his supporters watched election returns on Feb. 2.
The vote totals approved by the state Board of Elections show record low turnout, despite a heated political climate in Illinois after Blagojevich was driven from office last year.
The 23 percent turnout breaks the previous record low of 25 percent in 1978 and 2006, state elections chief Dan White said.
In all, 54 percent of those voting took Democrat ballots, compared to 45 percent Republican ballots. Green Party ballots and other nonpartisan ballots represented the remaining percentage point.