The Illinois gubernatorial elections were held on November 4, 1986. Republican candidate James R. Thompson won a fourth term in office, defeating Solidaritist Adlai Stevenson III by around 400,000 votes. Democrats were divided.
The 1986 election would see a rematch of the 1982 election, narrowly won by Thompson over Adlai Stevenson III by about 5,000 votes out of over 3.5 million votes cast. However, Stevenson's efforts were largely derailed in the primary when the candidates he supported for Lieutenant Governor (George Sangmeister) and Secretary of State (Aurelia Pucinski) were both upset by Mark J. Farichild and Janice Hart. While not heavily publicized during the primaries, Fairchild and Hart were followers of the controversial Lyndon Larouche. When this became public knowledge after the primaries, Stevenson was forced to abandon his Democratic Party nomination and run as a third-party candidate. As of 2016, this remains the last time a third party candidate finished in the top two in the Illinois governor's race.
Stevenson made it clear right after learning his running mate was to be a LaRouche supporter that he would "never run on a ticket with candidates who espouse the hate-filled folly of Lyndon LaRouche".
^Malcolm, Andrew H. (20 March 1986), "2 CONSERVATIVE EXTREMISTS UPSET DEMOCRATS IN THE ILLINOIS PRIMARY", New York Times, pp. A18, retrieved 9 November 2016, However, politicians here suggested other reasons: an unusually low turnout of about 25 percent of the 6.1 million registered voters and the relatively unfamiliar names of Mr. Stevenson's candidates, George Sangmeister for Lieutenant Governor and Aurelia Pucinski for Secretary of State. The LaRouche victors were Mark J. Fairchild for Lieutenant Governor and Janice Hart for Secretary of State.
^Kraft, Scott; Greem, Larry (20 March 1986), "Two LaRouche Illinois Victories Stun Democrats", L.A. Times, retrieved 9 November 2016, At a packed news conference Wednesday night, Stevenson declared: "I will never run on a ticket with candidates who espouse the hate-filled folly of Lyndon LaRouche."