"There has been no greater honor for us to be part of the campaign," he said in a concession speech at a Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington. "Gov. Quinn won this race."
Brady said he's already called the governor to congratulate him and hopes to work with him.
His remarks followed those of his running mate, Jason Plummer, who choked up a bit when addressing the packed crowd.
"I got into this race not for political reasons but because I thought there were problems in Illinois," he said. "I think we articulated ideas well."
Speaking in Chicago, Quinn said his election win was "defying the odds."
"They had me down 13 points. I never really believed that. When you're down 13 points, nobody throws rosebuds," he said.
The governor renewed his committment to creating jobs -- "it's not Democratic jobs or Republican jobs" -- and improving schools, saying he wants to "make sure nobody in the country out-educates Illinois."
Quinn saluted the "beer summit" held by Senator-elect Mark Quinn and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and extended a similar offer to Brady to meet him at Manny's Deli.
"We can sit down and have lunch and work together for the common good of Illinois," said Quinn. "We may have differences -- strong differences -- on policy issues, but we are all Americans and we're all Illinoisans and we have to work together for the common good at all times."
Of Illinois' 102 counties, Brady won all but three of them. In fact, going into the final 24 hours of the race, it was obvious that the Brady forces thought they had won.
And it's easy to understand why. So many polls had the Brady camp leading.
A Public Policy poll had Brady winning by five percent. Fox News had him up by six percent and the Chicago Tribune had him ahead by four percent. In early October, one Rasmussen poll predicted an eight percent Brady victory.
But the three counties Brady lost are among the most populous in the state, including Cook County. More than half of Quinn's final vote tally came from metro Chicago. It's believed that organized labor played a major role in that.