SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – For many Republicans, the election was a major upset as Democrats swept the ballot winning up and down the ticket from the governor’s race to gaining seats in the Illinois State Capitol.

That includes maintaining a supermajority in the State House and control of every office in the executive branch.

Republicans expected to see a red wave with GOP candidates making big wins, but that dream never came to pass.

“I was surprised,” Jim Edgar, a Republican and former governor of Illinois, said. “I kind of agreed with the pundits. I thought it was going to be a pretty good night for Republicans here in Illinois, as well as around the country, and that didn’t prove to be true.”

Kent Redfield, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield, said changing demographics in the state and districts drawn to help Democrats hurt the GOP.

“The Democrats started tonight with 73 seats in the House, and what looked like some headwinds in terms of the economy slowing down, inflation, crime being an issue, they just blew right through them,” Redfield said.

Edgar said abortion rights played a key role in influencing the outcome of the election, including the governor’s race.

“With the top of the ticket, not playing well, particularly on the abortion issue with suburban women who are the key to most elections statewide, not only in Illinois, but in most states, that hurt the Republican ticket down ballot.”

Overall, he said having State Senator Darren Bailey as the Republican nominee for governor impacted how other GOP candidates fared in the election.

“That’s why I think some of the legislative races didn’t go the Republican way, because the top of the ticket was enough of a drag and [in] close elections, it made the difference.”

While Edgar said Republicans can win in Illinois, to make that happen, he believes they need to nominate more moderate candidates. To start, he said more moderate Republicans need to come out to vote in primary elections.

“They need to be there to make sure that they have candidates that not only they can vote for in the fall, but maybe can win the election, because at the end of the day, if you don’t win, you’re not going to be able to have your point of view really heard that well, and to see the type of government you want,” Edgar said.

After the election, Jim Durkin, the House Republican leader, announced he was stepping down from his position.

In a statement he said “… it’s time for the Illinois Republican party to rebuild with new leaders who can bring independents back to the party that are needed to bring change to the state.”

Edgar said he hopes that the next person Republicans pick will be “flexible.”

“They’re in the minority, and they’re going to have to figure out a way to be relevant,” Edgar said. “And that means they’re going to have to deal with the Democratic majority, deal with a Democratic governor. And so they’re going to have to meet him halfway, at least, and they can’t expect in the minority to get their way, but they might be able to at least be at the table and help impact how policy is drawn up.”