March 9th, 2008
03:20 PM ET
14 years ago

Democrat claims Hastert's former congressional seat

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Barack Obama appeared in an ad for Democrat Bill Foster."] (CNN) - A Democratic victory in a special election to fill the congressional seat held by former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert is a sign of things to come, according to the party. Barack Obama’s campaign says it’s a demonstration of his electoral coattails.

First-time candidate Bill Foster, a physicist, beat Republican Jim Oberweis, a money manager and head of a giant dairy. The national Republican Party spent millions on his behalf.

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Foster’s victory demonstrated to Republican candidates that “Senator (John) McCain, who campaigned with the Republican nominee, cannot save them from defeat this November against strong Democratic challengers, even in districts that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush.”

The race had shaped up to be a presidential face-off of sorts, with McCain stumping for Oberweis and Obama backing Foster.

“You may think you have to wait until November to vote for change. But here in Illinois, you can start Saturday March 8th. That’s when you can vote to send Bill Foster to Congress,” said Obama in a campaign ad for the underdog candidate.

In a statement released by his campaign Saturday night, Obama said "The people of Illinois have sent an unmistakable message that they're tired of business-as-usual in Washington."

Republicans dispute the characterization. “The one thing 2008 has shown is that one election in one state does not prove a trend,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Karen Hanretty said Saturday. “…The one message coming out of 2008 so far is that what happens today is not a bellweather of what happens this fall.”

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Ann Aloha FairMedia, PA

    And the other signs that things to come, when Senator Clinton wins Pennsylvania? we go again...the media never learns there lessons in trying to glorify Senator Obama.
    Calling SNL

    March 9, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. True Democrat

    Awesome. As Illinois residents, we know firsthand that Obama's the man. And the rest of the country is catching on fast. That district will be better served by Bill Foster than it ever was by Dennis Hastert. American is hungry for change and looking forward to democratic solutions in 2008!

    Congratulations, Congressman Foster!

    OBAMA '08!!!

    March 9, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. jimbo

    Figures Obama would try to claim victory for this...Its all about him or he thinks it is ....His coat tails do not go this far ... He is in for a rude awakening come April 22nd in Pennsylvania. Then lets watch him flash his anger like he did the night Ohio and Texas went for Hillary ...!!!

    March 9, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. bill pike

    lets clean out anybody who has been in washington dc 8 years. how do you change the change if it is the same old people doing the same old things. this is why we the tax payers still think the clintons will cut deals with those strange people in the backroom called super what???? THIS IS A SIGN of things to come. Obama won 12 straight and then lost 3. He is back now with 1 and mississippi will make 2, IS THAT 14 OUT OF 18???? do what??? doesn't matter??? super get rich will put in clinton and not the majority votes????

    March 9, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. Tom

    "The one message coming out of 2008 so far is that what happens today is not a bellweather of what happens this fall.”

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    March 9, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. king

    sure sign of things to come

    March 9, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Jac

    Obama is the visible frontrunner candidate. It can be seen that this so called 'movement' energizes people and gives them hope. While the republicans may disagree about Obama they laugh knowing that the biggest help to the GOP right now is Hillary Clinton.

    March 9, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. Stan

    Haha Hastert,it's time for change!

    March 9, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  9. Irishspacemonk

    This is a big story for several reasons. First, this sends a message to a lot of super delegates sitting on the fence. Second, change isn't going to happen unless a lot of seats are picked up in congress. Obama means real change.

    March 9, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  10. mitch in sc

    business as usual? aren't the "followers" seeing that obama is NO DIFFERENT from any other politician?

    March 9, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Becky

    Obama, always taking credit but never responsibiliy. We need solutions not speeches. I promise I wouldn't swoon and faint at his concerts!!!

    March 9, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. Natan

    I'm glad for the coverage of this special election – but seriously? – you couldn't find a usable picture of the either candidate? you had to use one of Obama?

    March 9, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  13. Bruce

    Its funny how Bill Clinton is trying to use Obama's name to get votes for his wife. I thought his wife has already endorsed John McCain and condemned Barack Obama. This is really desperate Bill

    March 9, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Sheri

    Perhaps if the superdels pick Hillary, Obama should should switch and run as an Independent. Then alas Obama supporters will have a valid voice.

    March 9, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Mike M

    This is huge news! Bill Foster would have lost that election if he had Hillary backing him. So this means alot for the upcoming district races that will be coming in the fall and it shows that Obama can deliver for the democratic party and I seriously doubt the polarizing and smarmy nature that Hillary exudes. Superdelegates need to pay attention to this.

    March 9, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. Ryan M.

    This is exactly why the Democrats need Barack Obama on the top of the ticket....

    They can win in Republican districts...

    Make '08 a tidal shift to the Democratic party!

    Giving Hillary the nomination would save Republican seats.

    March 9, 2008 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. Eli, Milwaukee

    The Power of OBAMA!

    March 9, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. ben

    Doesn't this prove something to the democrats? Obama will bring many
    more democrats into Washington.

    March 9, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Rick Terven

    These results show what it will be like in November with Obama as head of the Democratic ticket,

    March 9, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. king from toronto

    a trend of things to come" that is so right.obama 09

    March 9, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. Samuel, West Virginia

    The time for change has come. Sen. Obama is already showing his potential for the type of change this country needs and deserves.

    Obama 08

    March 9, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Robert

    Oberweis has been running for an Illinois congressional seat for many years. It's not surprising that he lost again.

    That said, I'm glad that Hastert's seat went to a Dem. It shows that the Bush stench spreads far and wide

    March 9, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. mike

    Thats what i do not like about politics.... Especially republicans... First it is "Every vote counts" then Its " election in one state does not prove a trend."
    Make up your mind and/or take defeat when it is handed to you!

    March 9, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Cecilia,Calgary,Canada

    go obama

    March 9, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Kelly

    Obama's coattails work!

    That's why so many red state superdelegates, governors, senators etc. like Obama at the top of the ballot.

    More evidence that he can expand the electoral playing field. One thing that helped Foster greatly was a well-organized get out the vote machine that the state party had organized to beef up Obama's totals in the Super Tuesday primary, and Obama himself took the time to cut an ad for Foster's campaign.

    March 9, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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