Democrats win Special Election to replace Hastert by R. Moran
A longtime Republican district fell Saturday to the Democrats when a wealthy businessman and scientist snatched former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's congressional seat in a closely watched special election.There is much room for caution on the part of those who see this election as indicative of anything.
Democrat Bill Foster won 53 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Republican Jim Oberweis. With all 568 precincts reporting, Foster had 52,010 votes to Oberweis' 46,988.
"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 helped raise money for Oberweis.
"This is going to send a political shockwave across the country in this election year," Van Hollen said.
1. Everyone knows the GOP is in trouble. And Illinois is one of their biggest headaches. There are three open seats as a result of retirements, one of which has been filled by a Democrat already. The other two seats are in jeapordy because the GOP has failed to recruit strong candidates.
2. But there are also a couple of Democratic rookie Congressmen who are vulnerable as a result of extremely narrow victories in the Mid Term elections of 2006. The bottom line is turnout. In a general election, there will be nearly three times the number of people who turned out yesterday to vote (turnout was an abysmal 20%). And compared to the Mid Term election that saw Democrat Melissa Bean win an extremely close election in one of the most Republican districts in the state, the increased turnout in the general election will probably swamp her - if the GOP can come up with a good enough candidate.
3. Oberweiss is a weak candidate. He has run for office 6 times in the last six years and has failed to win any race. But he's rich and seems willing to pour his own money into the race. Chances are good that he will win in November.
National polls indicate a slight uptick in the number of people who identify themselves as Democrats. There is no massive movement to the left as evidenced by the presidential polls; we are still, as AT Political Correspondent Rich Baehr has pointed out numerous times on my show, a "50-50 country."
The Democrats are kidding themselves if they think that 20% turnout in a district that went 55% for George Bush in 2004 means anything meaningful except Democrats are energized at the moment. Let us revisit this district again next November. If Foster hangs on, it will probably mean a GOP disaster nationwide.