Illinois gubernatorial election, 1976

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Illinois gubernatorial election, 1976
1972 ←
November 2, 1976 → 1978

  Bio thompson.jpg Michael Howlett.jpg
Nominee James R. Thompson Michael J. Howlett
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate David C. O'Neal Neil Hartigan
Popular vote 3,000,395 1,610,258
Percentage 64.68 34.71

Il gub 1976.png

Red denotes a county carried by Thompson, Blue by Howlett.

Governor before election

Dan Walker

Elected Governor

James R. Thompson

Gubernatorial elections were held in Illinois in November 1976. Incumbent Governor lost renomination in favor of Secretary of State Michael J. Howlett, who was a Daley ally. Howlett then lost the general election to Republican James R. Thompson. This election was for a two-year term which would synchronize future gubernatorial elections with midterm election years, rather than presidential election years.


1976 gubernatorial election, Illinois[1]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican James R. Thompson 3,000,365 64.68
Democratic Michael J. Howlett 1,610,258 34.71
Communist Ishmael Flory 10,091 0.22
Libertarian F. Joseph McCaffrey 7,552 0.16
Socialist Workers Suzanne Haig 4,926 0.11
Socialist Labor George LaForest 3,147 0.07
U.S. Labor Edward Waffle 2,302 0.05
N/A write-ins 369 0.01 n-a
Majority 1,390,137 29.97
Turnout 3,150,107
Republican gain from Democratic Swing

Democratic Primary[edit]

The incumbent Governor, Dan Walker, had a contentious relationship with the Daley Machine, which backed Secretary of State Michael J. Howlett. Walker carried most of the state's counties, but Howlett carried Cook county by a wide margin and was ultimately nominated.

Dark Blue denotes a county carried by Howlett, and Light Blue by Walker.
1976 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Illinois[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Michael J. Howlett 811,721 53.82
Democratic Dan Walker (incumbent) 696,380 46.17
Democratic write-ins 245 0.02 n-a
Majority 115,341 7.65
Turnout 1,508,346

Republican Primary[edit]

Thompson won the Republican Primary in a landslide, carrying every county.

1976 Republican gubernatorial primary, Illinois[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican James R. Thompson 625,457 86.44
Republican Richard H. Cooper 97,937 13.54
Republican write-ins 170 0.02 n-a
Majority 1,390,137 29.97
Turnout 3,150,107