Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared himself the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, but Comptroller Dan Hynes has not conceded.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Quinn led Hynes by about 5,400 votes. On the Republican side, conservative state Sen. Bill Brady was ahead by a slim margin, some 500 votes, with state Sen. Kirk Dillard and former Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna refusing to concede.

"This race is too close to call. It's not going to be resolved any time soon," McKenna told supporters. "The road is not finished. Let's see where we land tomorrow morning."

Late Tuesday night, both races were heading to surprising conclusions.

Quinn had been cruising to a comfortable win about six weeks ago, but local issues turned against him and Hynes used a brilliant TV spot to shift the momentum in his favor. But Quinn closed with a positive TV ad and had the backing of the Chicago Democratic machine – including Alderman Dick Mell, the father-in-law of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).

Turnout was reported at close to 30 percent, which some observers attributed to an electorate demoralized by the corruption plaguing state government.


Quinn spent close to $4 million, which included a $100,000 loan from his mother. Hynes spent close to $6 million on the race, funding several hard-hitting TV spots.

One ad featured archive television footage of the late Harold Washington, who was the first African-American mayor of Chicago, stating that hiring Quinn in the 1980s was his "greatest mistake in government."
 


Quinn countered the ad by campaigning with prominent African-American politicians. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. reiterated his support for the governor and Reps. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) condemned the Hynes ad.

Meanwhile, Quinn's early prisoner release program became increasingly unpopular, as some of those released were subsequently re-arrested. Quinn blamed state officials for not fully informing him of the program's details, but refused to fire anyone. Hynes subsequently ran ads attacking Quinn as an inept manager.

To counter, Quinn launched ads stating that Hynes should be held accountable for the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal, wherein hundreds of bodies were dug out of the historic black graveyard and the plots resold. Cemetery regulators work out of Hynes' office and there was speculation regarding how much he knew about the goings-on.

Quinn used a personal appeal to Democratic primary voters as his closing argument. In his final TV ad, the governor spoke direct-to-camera about his experience as a consumer advocate in Illinois.

“You know me: For years I've fought the big shots on behalf of everyday people,” Quinn said in the ad. "On Tuesday, my opponent's counting on false, negative ads to win. Me, I'm counting on you."

Meanwhile, if Brady wins he'll have bested several well-funded GOPers with statewide name recognition.

McKenna spent close to $3.6 million during the primary -- much of it from his own fortune. Dillard spent about $2 million, Brady some $1 million and former state Attorney General Jim Ryan just $700,000.

Brady, who's from Bloomington, frequently noted that he was the only downstate candidate on the GOP ticket and it seemed to have paid off.

“It just shows the strength of the grassroots,” Brady said Tuesday night from his campaign headquarters in Bloomington. “We were far outspent on Chicago TV.”

This post was updated at 8:41 a.m. on Feb. 3.