"The late decision won't hurt me," Brady said. "One of the nice things our polling data shows is, if I wasn't people's first choice I was generally their second. So I think I've got a great ability to bring, not just Republicans, but independents and Democrats together. Our state's struggling. Families and businesses are worried about what's going to happen tomorrow. They know we need to have a clean break from the politics of the past and a plan for the future."
Brady will face Governor Pat Quinn in the November general election.
A month after the primary, the final tally for the GOP was announced. Out of more than 750,000 votes, Brady and Dillard were separated by just 193 votes. Dillard conceded the race Friday. That's a winning margin of two-thousandths of one percent.
Dillard said he would not challenge the results for financial and political reasons. Political experts say unless Dillard had evidence of specific miscounting or fraud, it's not worth asking for a recount. And it's certainly better for party unity.
On his first official day on the general election campaign trail, Brady greeted voters as they headed to their trains at Ogilvie Station.
"Bill Brady. I'm running for Governor."
His Democratic opponent Quinn has a 31-day headstart on the campaign because it took that long for the state election board to certify Brady's razor-thin margin of victory over Dillard. But Brady was already taking shots at Quinn.
"We're moving forward. The governor has a lot of issues to address. He's had a record $2.5 billion deficit in his first 12 months. He's without a lieutenant governor," said Brady.
For his part, Governor Quinn said he's ready for the campaign to begin, and the lines are already drawn. Quinn supports an income tax increase to help dig the state out of a huge financial hole. Brady is against that idea.
"He has in the past, his voting record has shown, that's he very extreme when it comes to taking on issues protecting everyday people," said Gov. Quinn.
His former opponent says he is throwing his full support behind Brady even though Dillard likely would have won if he hadn't had to split Chicago-area support with three other DuPage County Republicans.
"I have to trust in the machinery that is out there. Could I overturn it? Perhaps. But, in the end, is it worth it?" said Dillard, (R) Hinsdale.
Brady is a conservative Republican who says the campaign will be about jobs and reform and little else. His state party chairman said he agrees.
"Everybody is focused on fiscal and economically responsible issues. Those are the issues that people care about, jobs and fiscal issues, so there is no real right or left in those, just right or wrong," said Pat Brady, Illinois Republican chairman.
Political scientist Dick Simpson predicts a tight race in November.
"It's a situation where any single mistake could cost the election," said Simpson, UIC political science professor.
Governor Quinn is scheduled to present his state budget next week, and experts say the focus on the state's fiscal crisis could work to Brady's benefit in the campaign. But those political experts also point out Brady is not very well known in northern Illinois.. And right now that works to Governor Quinn's benefit.
Breakdown of votes
Of the four DuPage County candidates on the Republican ballot, one of them, county board chairman Bob Schillerstrom, got over 7,000 votes. Schillerstrom withdrew from the race before Election Day.
The election board video conference was held Friday morning with four members meeting in Chicago and four members meeting in Springfield. Each of the members signed the notice proclaiming the results, which also indicate Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn won over his opponent, Ill. Comptroller Dan Hynes, by 8,000 votes.
Brady received 155,527 votes. Dillard got 155,334. Among the other Republican challengers:
On the Democratic side, Quinn received 462,049 votes while Hynes, who conceded the race, got 453,677 votes.