Exuding confidence but staring at what most pundits believe are insurmountable odds, Illinois Senator Bill Brady wrapped up his campaign for the GOP nomination for governor today, in his home town of Bloomington.
"This campaign's given us a great opportunity to talk about the differences between the candidates, what we stand for versus what they stand for," Brady said. "It really resonated with Republican voters, particularly as we get into the final stretch of this campaign."
What a difference four years make. In 2010, Brady was his party's standard bearer, coming within 32,000 votes of defeating incumbent Pat Quinn, in a race where 3.7 million votes were cast. Now he finds himself in third place in most polls, behind the formidable money of front-runner Bruce Rauner, and a late surge by Senator Kirk Dillard, the man he narrowly defeated for the nomination four years ago.
If ever there was a case study for what money means to a campaign, this race has been a snapshot: the seemingly limitless resources of the wealthy Rauner, versus the shoestring campaign Brady put together this time around. Brady's state campaign filings indicated just $55,000 raised since the beginning of the year, added to the $200,000 his campaign listed as cash-on-hand when the books were closed on 2013.
"There's no question Bruce is a millionaire," Brady said. "He's a very successful businessperson and he's trying to buy the race with his money. He's developed a great deal of name recognition. But at the end of the day, we think Republican primary voters are looking for issues, not just name recognition."
Brady began his day greeting commuters in Chicago, and eating breakfast at the landmark Lou Mitchell's restaurant in the west Loop. Then, he traveled home to Bloomington, where he kept up an Election Day tradition of lunch at the popular Winner's Grill, before voting at the Centennial Christian Church.
Brady will watch election returns at an airport hotel, where his headquarters was still being quickly assembled as TV crews arrived late Tuesday. If he had doubts about the outcome, he wasn't showing it as he poked at a cheeseburger with wife Nancy at his side.
"We've been through this before," he said. "Four years ago, no one picked us to win. We were in fourth place in the polls. We ended up winning more than double our vote from the last poll taken. So we're pretty confident our voters are going to turn out. And if they do, we'll win. And that puts us in the best position to go on and beat Pat Quinn."