2002 Illinois gubernatorial election

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Illinois gubernatorial election, 2002

← 1998 November 5, 2002 2006 →
  Blagojevich.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Rod Blagojevich Jim Ryan
Party Democratic Republican
Running mate Pat Quinn Carl Hawkinson
Popular vote 1,847,040 1,594,961
Percentage 52.2% 45.1%

Illinois gubernatorial election, 2002.svg
County results
Blagojevich:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%
Ryan:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70-80%

Governor before election

George Ryan

Elected Governor

Rod Blagojevich

The 2002 Illinois gubernatorial election pitted Democratic U.S. Congressman Rod Blagojevich against Republican Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan. Incumbent Republican governor George Ryan, who was plagued by scandal, did not run for a second term; he was of no relation to Jim Ryan. Blagojevich won 52% to 45%, marking the first time a Democrat was elected governor of Illinois since 1972.

Democratic primary[edit]



The Democratic primary was a very close 3-way race. Blagojevich prevailed by just 25,469 votes, and just by 2.03%. Vallas did very well in the Chicago suburbs, and narrowly defeated Burris in Cook County, the most populous county in the state. Vallas led early on in the night with Burris in second and Blagojevich in third. Vallas had won probably the most vital county, Cook County. For Blagojevich to beat both opponents, he had to run the board through the rest of Illinois. Blagojevich won almost all of the state's rural counties. Eventually, Cook County had reported all of its votes, with a slight advantage for Vallas over Burris. However many votes were still left to be counted in other cities outside the Chicago area. Blagojevich managed to pull out a narrow victory by winning in Champaign County, home of Champaign. Blagojevich also did well in Sangamon County home to the state's capital, Springfield. Blagojevich also won St. Clair County home of East St. Louis. In the early morning the day after the election, Vallas realized that with all of Cook County's votes counted he had lost. At 4:18 in the morning, Vallas called Blagojevich and congratulated him, and pledged Blagojevich his full support for the general election.

County results
Democratic Primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Rod Blagojevich 457,197 36.50
Democratic Paul Vallas 431,728 34.47
Democratic Roland Burris 363,591 29.03
Total votes 1,252,516 100.00

Republican primary[edit]


Republican primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Ryan 410,074 44.68
Republican Patrick O'Malley 260,860 28.42
Republican Corrine Wood 246,825 26.89
Republican Write-ins 69 0.01
Total votes 917,828 100.00

General election[edit]


In the general election, Blagojevich defeated Republican Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan by a solid margin. Ethics scandals had plagued the administration of incumbent Republican George Ryan, who was of no relation to Jim Ryan, and Blagojevich's campaign focused on the theme of "ending business as usual" in state government. During the campaign, Blagojevich played on the name of his opponent by asking "How can you replace one Ryan with another Ryan and call that change? You want change? Elect a guy named Blagojevich."[2]


Although the election was thought to be a close one early on in the campaign, Blagojevich's big numbers out of Cook County were too much for the Republicans to come back from.

Illinois gubernatorial election, 2002[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Rod Blagojevich 1,847,040 52.19% +4.73%
Republican Jim Ryan 1,594,961 45.07% -5.96%
Libertarian Cal Skinner 73,794 2.09%
Independent Marisellis Brown 23,089 0.65%
Majority 252,080 7.12% +3.55%
Turnout 3,538,891
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ballots Cast". Illinois State Board of Elections. 19 March 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  2. ^ Lin, Joanna (December 10, 2008). "He campaigned as a reformer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  3. ^ "Election Results". Illinois State Board of Elections. 5 November 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2019.