Democrats capture Hastert’s Congressional seat

A longtime Republican district fell to the Democrats Saturday when a wealthy businessman and scientist snatched former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s congressional seat in a closely watched special election.

Democrat Bill Foster won 52 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for Republican Jim Oberweis. With 565 of 568 precincts reporting, Foster had 51,140 votes to Oberweis’ 46,270.

“Tonight our voices are echoing across the country and Washington will hear us loud and clear, it’s time for a change,” Foster told cheering supporters Saturday evening.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen said Foster’s win is a rebuke of the Bush administration and of the GOP’s apparent presidential nominee, John McCain, who campaigned for Oberweis.

“This is going to send a political shock wave across the country in this election year,” Van Hollen said.

Foster’s special election win means he will fill the remainder of Hastert’s term, which ends in January.

The two will square off again in November, for a new, full term. Foster won a close Democratic primary by less than 400 votes for that race, although one challenger has initiated a recount.

The 66-year-old Hastert, who lost his powerful post as speaker when Democrats took control of Congress, resigned late last year.

The race between Foster and Oberweis spawned a contentious campaign that saw both men turn to high-profile supporters to help sway voters. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made a TV ad praising Foster; Oberweis had fundraising help from McCain and Hastert’s backing.

“I’m really disappointed that we came up second but that’s where we’re at,” Oberweis said.

This is the latest election disappointment for Oberweis who has lost primary races twice before for the U.S. Senate and once for Illinois governor.

With Foster headed to Washington, the district will have a rookie congressmen after years of enjoying Hastert’s clout. During his 21 years in Washington, Hastert funneled millions of dollars to the district that stretches from Chicago’s far western suburbs to almost the Mississippi River.

Hastert’s is one of three open seats in Illinois this year because of GOP retirements.

Reps. Jerry Weller, who represents a district from the suburban sprawl south of Chicago to the farmland of central Illinois, and Ray LaHood of Peoria are also stepping down. Democrats’ chances to pick up one of those seats improved when the Republican nominee to replace Weller dropped out of the race.

Besides poking at each other with negative TV ads, Foster and Oberweis have clashed on issues from immigration and health care to the Iraq war.

During a recent TV appearance, Foster said he would be a “good vote in Congress to change President Bush’s policy” on Iraq. Oberweis contended the troop surge there was working, saying: “Things are getting better in Iraq.”

Oberweis also has blasted Foster for being a proponent of big government because Foster says he wants to move toward universal health care. Foster claims Oberweis’ approach ā€” he favors tax incentives to help people buy their own insurance ā€” only works for people who are “healthy and wealthy.”


  1. dockside

    I hope this is a portent of things to come in November. Looks like Obama has coattails and McCain doesn’t. I hope the Democrats who still have to vote in the Democratic primaries see how important it is that not only must a Democrat win the White House, but needs to have coattails to increase the House and the Senate, especially the Senate. Super Delegates – please take note.

  2. staunchdem

    My oh my another Fascist neocon is gone and not soon enough.
    This just has to continue in order for our country to recover form the disasters of the past 7 years of chimpdom.
    Way to go Congressman Foster.
    Democracy is on the march again in America.

  3. Sandra Price

    I am delighted that a neocon lost the race but I can only hope Foster can control himself and not increase the government’s authority and size as Bush has done. I do believe that most Republican House and Senate members will lose in November because of their desire to legislate our morals, while showing few of their own.

    The Congress must get back to work following the Constitution. The GOP has trashed this document and they did it with arrogant and damaging results. I hope that the GOP will take notice of the voters and change their ways. No more wars and no more torture from day one. We can work on the discrimination brought by the religious right later on in the year; dump the conservatives first!

  4. CheckerboardStrangler

    My wife’s fam is from the general area but they’ve been gone so long that it is difficult to assess what a Democratic win means for an area like this.
    Isn’t this part of “Chicagoland” and if it is, doesn’t a Democrat win mean a return to what is known commonly as “the machine” style of politics in the area?

    I’d ask them but as I said, they’ve been all gone a long time and all I get are blank stares.

  5. griff

    Woo Hoo! I can’t wait for the Democrats to take total control of this government.

    I can’t wait for them to restore the Constitution and Bill of rights. I’m on pins and needles awaiting the unveiling of their mandatory, state-run, socialized eugenics…er, I mean, Healthcare Rationing.

    I can’t wait for them to restore the power to coin money and regulate its value to the Congress. Oh wait, Kennedy tried that, and look what happened to him.

    I can’t wait for them to lower taxes and end the fiat paper currency. I can’t wait for them to end corruption and lobbyist influence, reform campaign financing and end corporate welfare.

    I can’t wait for them to hand over more of our soil to foreign interests and the United Nations. I can’t wait for them to ignore our borders and double illegal immigration.

    Sixty million lawn mowers needed immediately!

    It’ll be a great day when they repeal NAFTA and GATT and balance the trade deficit.

    I can’t wait for them to give us back our civil liberties and unalienable rights.

    I can’t wait for them to end global warming. Or is it global cooling now? I can’t keep track.

    I can’t wait to be disarmed.

    I wish I could pull a Rip Van Winkle and just sleep for the next ten months. Then I can awaken on that glorious morn, refreshed and rejuvenated, alive with anticipation. The sun will shine brightly and warmly across this great land. The birds will chirp and flit about playfully like in a Disney cartoon. The cherry blossoms will bloom early in triumphant adulation. The lion shall lay down with the lamb, and enemies around the globe will lay down their arms and embrace. Trumpets will sound from on high, and echo throughout the world. Democracy has been restored!

    But alas, there will be no long sleep for me. I’ve been asleep for most of my life. Besides, I’ve got a rebate check from China coming soon. I intend to do the patriotic thing and pump it back into the struggling economy. Fifteen hundred dollars will buy a lot of food and water, providing the dollar is still worth something by then.

  6. CheckerboardStrangler

    Most of that check is going straight back to China because almost everything we buy is made there anyway, so essentially we’re getting a check from China so we can send it back to them.

  7. SEAL

    I don’t believe there is much doubt that the GOP,with the exception of a few die hard evangelical redneck areas, are going to be swept from the Whitehouse and the halls of congress next November by a newer breed of democrat, especially if Obama wins. That should produce a veto proof situation, even in the senate. Several repugnant senators have seen the handwriting in the sky and opted not to run to certain defeat. However, this also means that virtually all of the incumbant democrats will be re-elected. So, the question to be answered is how much support Obama will actually get for many of the changes he wishes to install in the operation of our government?

    The one thing that would help him the most would be the defeat of Nancy Pelosi by Cindy Sheehan. I’m sure the house would replace Nancy with another old liner but whoever it would be would not have the power she has. Harry Reid is such a weak individual that, with a full majority in the senate, he would be very little problem, following the more forcefull members. I see getting rid of Pelosi to be just as important as installing Obama in the presidency. If we can accomplish that, we might have a chance to start this nation on the road to recovery.

    No one knows how good of a Job Obama will do but we do know that the alternatives will only continue us on the current path of destruction. His so-called lack of experience is the most ridiculous reason anyone could give for not voting for him. There is no such thing as experience for president until you have had it. Good judgment and the right goals are what is needed. He can hire or appoint all the experience in the world. The primary talent needed is the ability to get congress to reach accords that will accomplish the right goals. This is something Obama has demonstrated throughout his career. Removing the Pelosi roadblock would enable him to be more successfull.

    I hope that we all understand just how important it is to get Pelosi out of the House of Representatives all together and support Sheehan in any way we can. I would love to have Cindy’s loud and clear “end the war” cry coming from the House floor. Obama wants to end it, she will help.

  8. Sandra Price

    It is my absolute dream to see the end of the GOP in 2009. Whose fools brought this on themselves. I believe America can take all the Democrats’ programs and survive; I cannot say that for the GOP programs. Americans don’t seem to know what they want but they do know it isn’t the police state that the Conservatives have clearly planned.

    Obama has shown the ability to represent common sense not the forced programs of the Clinton plans. Social conservatives have been taught since birth that America is a Christian nation and we must show them it is a free nation. If Obama raises our taxes, we will suffer for it and Corporation tax increases will send more jobs over seas but if we keep together as a team, we can work with a reasonsable White House under Obama. Bush never gave a damn for the people.

    Doug started a movement here last year for us to work out a good plan for what we want as citizens. “Campaign for our America” was put on hold and was over at Reader Rant. I’m hoping he will open it up here so we can keep an eye on the new White House and work on the problems.