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. AJ

    And it's all the saviours doing? Obama got him elected. What a load of crap. He was ahead lond before Obama started paying lip service to him. But I forgot " the hope of the world" has arrived to fix everything. God Amricans are stupid

    March 9, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. angel

    One more in the good guy side Right on

    March 9, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Bob, DC

    Obama's coattails already working!! Take note Superdelegates!

    March 9, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Reginald Tewarson

    It is time that at least some members of our congress be scientists, like Bill Foster, to make laws that address the problems of our technically advanced country. The lawers, money managers and other non scientist have not done so well in the past.

    March 9, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Roger from Arkansas

    Way to go!

    Obama – Vice President '08

    March 9, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. Rebecca - CA

    ,” 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.”

    What about the election of 2006? The trend started then and has been gaining momentum. It is hard to deny that the American people are tired of the same old politics in Washingrton and are looking for a fresh approach.

    March 9, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Leroy

    Clearly, Obama has a coat tail effect which bodes well for November.

    Congratulations to Bill Foster and Barack Obama.

    March 9, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Barbara M Campbell

    A sign of things to come in November ... IF Obama is the Democratic nominee for President. If Hillary is the nominee, Republicans will turn out in droves to vote against her and FOR Republican candidates for Congress.

    March 9, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. stacy

    Look America we have to get this right this time Barack Obama NEEDS to become our next President. His has it all a peacful spirit and he can bring the country together better that the Clinton's Look some folk want this to get ugly and it can but do we need this as a nation no the only way I will vote for A DREAM TEAM TICKET is if Obama is the President. I know I am the only on thinking like this if Hillary steals the election THIS is going to cause an cry!!!!!!!

    March 9, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Richard

    Where is Newt Gringrich when his party needs him?

    March 9, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. Patricia in NH

    Way to go. WE THE PEOPLE are speaking loud and clear... no business as usual in Washington. .. we've had enough. I'm not stupid enough to not realize this will bring on a whole new bunch of crap from the reps and the queen, but cha know what... people are getting more and more wise to the bull..illuminating the truth

    March 9, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. Sam in Hershey, PA

    Once again, MORE evidence that our country is ready for the positive democratic change that ONLY Obama can bring!

    This is impressive!

    March 9, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Jonathan

    While it may be only one seat in the House, this is a huge coup for the Democratic Party (as well as Illinois): with all the doubt being visited upon the Democrats on account of their unresolved nomination process, this is a significant moral victory.

    March 9, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Gerry, Buffalo NY

    While Hillary will energize the Republican base bringing them out in droves to vote against her, Barrack Obama will have long coattails. If you want a super-majority in both houses of congress, make Obama the democratic nominee.

    Experience only matters if it improves your judgment. Hillary voted to give George Bush the power to invade Iraq and didn't learn anything from it because she then went and voted to give him authority to use military force in Iran by declaring their army a terrorist organization.

    March 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. SlickRick

    One of the things that this shows is Obama's ability to mobilize people. I think that's key and his opponents try to play that down, but that's what's really happening. Youngsters like myself, who are tired of business as usual in Washington, are ready for real change. And he represents that better than any other candidate.

    March 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. NickNasc

    And it begins!!! Notice it was LEAD by OBAMA!!! What has Hillary done except drag down our party, make back room deals, whine and Bash Obama since she started on this single minded obsessive pursuit of her " entitlement"??

    March 9, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Jeff - Plainfield, IL

    Great work voters! And congratulations Bill Foster!

    March 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. paul

    This year is and will continue to break all historical statistics. Forget all the "red and blue" states, Republican and Democratic states, large and small states. This election year will be historical as it already has shown in this campaign and any statistics based on history are extinct. Stating historical statistics is just political rhetoric and is no longer valid. Like the late 60's shifted from a Democratic to Republican nation, the reverse is going to happen in this decade because America is sick of the BULLY Republican party that uses fear to scare people. We are sick of it and the American people are beginning to finally stand up to the BULLY party and will put them in there place.

    March 9, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. SLO Bear

    Superdelegates should give this some thought. Would a Clinton ad have had the same effect? If not, they may want to take the keys away from her demolition derby car.

    March 9, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Toyin, Marietta, GA

    Another bad news McCain.

    March 9, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. Luz

    this is not a sign of obama's strength. is a sign of how badly the republicans situation is.

    March 9, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. TC


    March 9, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. jwilliams

    It is funny to me that Obama had the time to make a ad for someone else but didn't have the time to hold meetings on one of the major problems in the US .Looks like first on his list would be to hold meeting then running for President and then make a ad for a fellow person from Illinois .

    we as women have proven we can do a lot of things at once run households take care of children work oust side of home take care of budget and to many other thing to list
    So let put a women in the office she will be able to get things done
    Hillary 2008

    March 9, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. Interesting

    Pelosi & the democrats know they can't keep going to the Obama store without paying the bill. They have to give him the nomination. He will win NY, CA & possibly even TX in a general election. And win in the south where Hillary will lose. He also help elections like Foster & give them huge majorities in both houses. That's why Hillary is angling for VP now.

    March 9, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. Greg

    Hi Pennsylvania. Listen, I know you've been targeted as falling in lock-step with a demographic which the media has already set in concrete. I guess that makes you a "conservative" (read: "racist"), "blue collar" "meat and potatoes" voter who is buying what the political ads are telling you to think – and you'll vote the way the pundits are telling you to vote.

    Really? Is that you?

    Come on Pennsylvania, do your homework. Roger Clemens' wife may have stood by her man, she may have even dabbled in his HGH doses, but I'll bet she couldn't go an inning on the mound.

    One of the two candidates has more years of elected experience than the other, and that same candidate has more foreign-relations experience than did Bill Clinton in 1992.

    Do your homework Pennsylvania. Turn off the TV and do your homework. I believe in you!

    March 9, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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