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)

    Great News! It always helps to have a clean, honest politician – and there are just a few – to campaign for you !

    It's amazing to mean nonetheless, that the Clinton spin doctors can twist and turn the truth and facts anyway they want ... aided by an indifferent media, by 'journalist' who are more moderators and servants to the powerful than they are our critical eyes and ears.

    Why is it that so many people fall for the Clinton spin ? Is it the lack of education or is it the fast-but-do-not-think-about-it news style ? The media has educated folks working for them, I think ... CAN they not work out the spin for us or do they not WANT to or are they not ALLOWED to ?

    I think that a true democracy needs a more independent media (and better educated voters who can handle a more independent media).



    March 9, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Matt S

    The National Republican Congressional Committee put over $1.2 million into this campaign, about 20% of their cash on hand. They knew that this was important and it does show that they are in very justifiable trouble.

    March 9, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Gary

    Does this add one new superdelegate to the total? Are there now 2025 needed to win? Presumably, this is an Obama superdelegate pickup.

    March 9, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. enomisa

    I denounce and reject Obama's right to steal the election via the media bias and the corrupt rules of the DNC.

    Did you think the electorate would not notice?
    Took some longer than others, but now the corruption has been revealed and it will impact the NOV outcome, even if it proves to be too late for the primary.
    Clinton is the clear winner if everyone who wanted to vote GOT to vote, and had their CAST ballot count.
    Then too- the independents and cross-over republicans have weighed in on who is the nominee of the democratic party. SILLY SILLY SEASON in politics.

    March 9, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Mr. M

    "You won't see me as a vice presidential candidate, you know, I'm running for president," said Obama.

    Cocky Much?

    March 9, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Sue Callahan

    Congrats! Whether Democract or Repulbican..I think to have real change it has to start from the bottom to up. Ths is a start. Hopefully both parties are hearnig the voters loud and clear now!

    March 9, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Brian

    What? Hillary didn't support the democratic candidate? Typical I wonder if she is accepting lots of money from the Good Ol'boy Party to stay in the race she will lose with pledged delegates.

    March 9, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. BL-NYC

    WOW... It just keeps getting better!!!
    I am personally happy when a Democrat takes a congressional seat but I don't think that Senator Obama should take the credit??? That is a bit pompous...
    I don't think he won because of Obama, he won because he was the right person for the job and we already have a Democratic Congress.
    That is just plane big-headed to think that you are the cause of someone's success... Just another sign of things to come!!! King Obama!

    March 9, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. HD

    Obama helped the democratic party overtake a republican seat in Illinois that is "always" a republican district. Makes me think of the Hillary supporters saying that Obama's wins in "red" states don't matter. Yes they do because he obviously has cross over appeal and can carry "red" states.

    March 9, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Michael

    This is a great example of how Obama can help Democrats grow the party's power in Congress. Obama at the top of the ticket can be a powerful force for sweeping in new Democratic Senators and House members in November. This is just a preview of the great coattails Obama has the potential to create.

    March 9, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. bob

    Yes, good job..

    March 9, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. United We Stand

    This proves that Obama can beat McCain anytime, anyday....
    We don't need Clinton, so Bill should just keep quiet about Clinton-Obama ticket...Let 'em try again in 8 years time. Period

    March 9, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. HD

    Congratulations on gaining another seat in the democratic party!

    Puerto Rico has changed the rules of their election in the past few days. They changed from a Caucus to a Primary! The New York Times reported this but CNN has not yet. This obviously favors the Clintons and the leader of the democratic party in PR is a longtime Clinton supporter. Should be we changing the rules to favor the other candidate? Most logical people would say this is unfair.

    What is also unfair is the fact that Puerto Rico has 55 delegates which is more than "real" states such as Kentucky, Mississippi, Wyoming, South Dakota, West Virginia, etc. CNN, why does PR have more voice than voters in real states? Please do some investigative reporting on this.

    March 9, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Obama 08

    Shows the power of Obama!!

    Is CNN going to report the donations of Rezko to the Clinton campaign?

    Is it going to update its delegate count?

    Is it finally going to be a fair and balanved news source or continue to pander for ratings??

    March 9, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Irving Karchmar

    Good for Obama 🙂 And when will CNN actually read the results in Texas and realize that after the caucus is added in, Obama wins Texas. The final results will be Obama 98 delegates, Clinton 95 delegates.


    Check the facts and get it straight.

    March 9, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    This is good news! Indianapolis is having a special congressional election on Tuesday. I hope this trend continues.

    March 9, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. A CANUCK

    For the good of the Democratic party...Hillary should step down now.

    But Bill is probably desperately counting on her presidency in order

    pay off past favors.....that accounts for the dirty politics.

    March 9, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Veronica

    I think this is a bellweather of what will happen in the fall. Democrats will rule!

    March 9, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. Jill

    This is a very poor article. Firstly, the State in question is mentioned nowhere in the first half of the article. While I knew where Hastert held his seat, I doubt your entire audience did. Further, there is no mention made of how much (if anything) Obama or other Democrats spent on the campaign, suggesting that only Republicans did any spending. Finally, why is there no mention of Hillary?? Your writer argues that "The race had shaped up to be a presidential face-off of sorts, with McCain stumping for Oberweis and Obama backing Foster." Excuse me? Isn't that a little premature? Why is Obama the presumptive Democratic candidate?

    March 9, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. Closely Watching

    Ask for solutions and you will receive solutions. Congratulations to Bill Foster on his victory and kudos to Senator Obama for his support which appears to have been instrumental in this victory. This is just a taste of the victory that Democrats will enjoy in November when Senator Obama gets the Democratic nod.

    Obama '08~REAL change we can believe in.

    March 9, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. Lucas, Nashville TN


    Roll that up and smoke it, GOP.

    March 9, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  22. Don Fitzgerald, Chicago

    I really hope this victory is an indication that the nation is totally fed up with the Republicans and their destructive agenda against the American people. They have gutted our government, destroyed our economy and have brought grief and suffering to our men and women of our Armed Forces. Send more of these un-americans home, kick them out of office and let the Democrats, or Ralph Nader, rebuild our great and beautiful country.

    March 9, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. Laura

    I voted for Foster because Oberweis ran such a negative campaign. I have no intention of supporting NObama – the egotistical liar of Illinois – and could care less who he endorses.

    March 9, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. fairminded

    This is one of the reasons why the Republicans prefer to run against the Clintons instead of Obama. With all the new committed voters he brought to the Democratic Party, his coattails are much longer than those of the Clintons. Besides, the Clintons' record of helping democrats get elected is dismal. Bill lost both houses to the Republicans with a big margin, in addition to two consecutive presidential elections. Another reason is that in contrast to McCain, Obama is a transformational candidate, which make him more formidable than the Clintons.

    March 9, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. Misty

    Hillary Clinton does not even care!

    McCain stumping for Oberweis and Obama backing Foster

    Foster wins

    Go Obama!!!!

    March 9, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
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