GOP in Illinois Governor Race Says He's Not Conceding

November 3, 2010 - 11:53 AM

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Lt. Gov nominee Shelia Simon

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, right, addresses the crowd with Lt. Gov nominee Shelia Simon, believing he has won the gubernatorial race over Republican Bill Brady in the midterm election Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 in Chicago. Quinn is seeking his first full term as governor after the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Bloomington, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Republican Bill Brady said Wednesday he won't concede to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in the exceptionally tight race for governor, one of several contests nationwide that could take weeks to decide.

Brady is trailing Quinn by the thinnest of margins. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Quinn's lead was just more than 8,400 vote of the 3.6 million cast. Both men now have 46 percent of the vote.

"I believe we will win," Brady told reporters Wednesday in his hometown of Bloomington. He said he wants all the votes counted, including absentee ballots that are from military members serving out of state. That could take 30 days.

Several gubernatorial races including Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Connecticut, were too close to call and could drag on for weeks.

Quinn was trying to hold on while several other Democratic governors were voted out on Election Day, and Republicans in Illinois claimed the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama along with a majority of the state's congressional delegation.

Quinn had no public appearances set for Wednesday. He is seeking a term of his own after taking over when Rod Blagojevich was ousted from office, predicted victory Tuesday even as he acknowledged there was more counting to be done.

"I know that there are votes out here in Cook County and other counties across the state, and so we want to make sure they're counted, counted fairly, but I think when all is said, we'll end up on top with the most votes, a majority," he told supporters early Wednesday at a downtown Chicago hotel.

Illinois law doesn't require an automatic recount in close races, of which Brady has had two this year. He wasn't officially declared the Republican nominee until more than a month after the Feb. 2 primary when he beat his challenger by less than 200 votes.

Whoever prevails this time around will have to deal with a state budget deficit that could top $15 billion.

Quinn has proposed raising the income tax by one-third - from 3 percent to 4 percent - to generate more money for education. He also promises new budget cuts.

"I like that Pat Quinn isn't lying about having to raise the taxes," said Mary Scott, 50, a patient accountant who voted for Quinn in Chicago. "He told us what he has to do to get us there."

Brady flatly rejects raising taxes and instead has suggested tax breaks. He acknowledges that could add as much as $1 billion to the deficit, but contends lost money would be made up when the economy eventually improves.

"I hope Brady gets the state out of the budget hole it is in," said Linda Gebhardt, 68, a Springfield retiree who worked for the teacher's retirement system and voted for the Republican. "I have a state pension, and I hope to keep getting it. We're at the top as far as dysfunctional states go."

During the campaign, Quinn blasted Brady for not detailing how he would fix the state's economic woes. Neither candidate, though, has specified where they would make additional budget cuts.

Quinn also highlighted the candidates' differences on social issues. Brady opposes abortion, while Quinn supports a woman's right to choose. Quinn supports civil unions for gay people and Brady has vowed to veto any legislation permitting them. Neither man supports gay marriage.

Brady tried to remind voters that Quinn worked for Blagojevich, who was serving his second term when he was arrested on federal corruption charges, then impeached and removed from office by lawmakers in January 2009. Quinn insists he and the former governor had been on the outs long before the arrest, which has led to Blagojevich's conviction on one count of lying to the FBI. He is awaiting retrial after the jury deadlocked on more serious counts.

"I think he got handed a pretty tough job as governor and I don't think any governor in the world could have done better," said Shane Bollhorst, 35, a power company lineman who voted for Quinn in Leroy. "I think a little bit more time and he could have a better chance."

About four in five voters said the issue of corruption and ethics in state government was important in their vote, according to preliminary exit polls. Those voters were closely split between Quinn and Brady.

The Green Party's Rich Whitney, independent Scott Lee Cohen and Libertarian Lex Green shared 7 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

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Associated Press writer Deanna Bellandi in Chicago contributed to this report.