Rauner wins Republican primary, will focus efforts on November

Jeanne Ives visits Twin Cities

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Rauner held off conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R) by a slim margin on Tuesday, despite outspending her on television advertising by a more than five-to-one margin.

Illinois Democratic candidate for Governor J.B. Pritzker and his Lieutenant Governor pick Juliana Stratton arrive during his primary election night victory speech on March 20, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

But Pritzker's cash dwarfs Rauner's, and the billionaire Democrat, who already spent close to $70 million to win his primary, is nearly certain to have the edge in campaign spending in what observers say will likely be the most expensive statewide race in USA history.

The 61-year-old governor, a former venture capitalist serving in his first public office, took advantage of a national GOP wave four years ago to pull off a surprising victory in a state otherwise dominated by Democrats.

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Pritzker, an investor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, easily won his primary.

Pritzker, 53, has poured almost $70 million into capturing a Democratic nomination that has proved tougher than initially expected. Robert F. Kennedy; and Daniel Biss, 40, a state senator who campaigned as the "middle-class candidate".

James Strugala, 76, of the Chicago suburb of Berwyn, bought the pitch, saying Biss is "somewhere closer to me than the other guys". The Democratic Governors Association spent at least $451,000 on primary ads attacking both Republican candidates. Public and private polls showed Rauner's approval rating rivaling President TrumpDonald John TrumpLieu: There will be "widespread civil unrest" if Trump fires Mueller Attorneys for Trump, Mueller hold face-to-face meeting to discuss potential interview topics: report Trump tariffs not helpful for nuclear talks, South Korea says MORE's in deep blue IL.

"He's done the best job he could", said Haley, 58. "I have heard you".

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Meanwhile, it's worth noting that the race for governor was not the only one on the primary ballot. Pat Quinn - whom Rauner ousted in 2014 - was locked in a tough competition with state Sen. Kwame Raoul for state attorney general.

In Illinois' 3rd congressional district, Democratic incumbent Dan Lipinski is toe-to-toe with newcomer Marie Newman, in part because of his conservative leanings on abortion.

But none involved the kind of spending as seen in the governor's race.

But Ives' aggressive and, in one especially jarring ad, offensive messaging also stirred anger across party lines.

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Rauner's road to victory in the primary, paved in December 2016 with an initial investment of $50 million from his own coffers, turned rocky toward the finish, as Ives, questioning his bona fides on social issues, made a strong push for conservative voters. "We divvied up the ... campaign and we went at it every single day".

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