The Democratic Primary was very close. 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. Vallas had won probably the most vital county, Cook County. For Blagojevich to win, 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. 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 Counties 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.
In the general election, Blagojevich defeated RepublicanIllinois Attorney GeneralJim Ryan by a solid margin. Ethics scandals had plagued the previous administration of Republican George Ryan, who had no relation to Jim, 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."