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. enomisa

    you can win more easily if you toss out the votes going to your opponent

    March 9, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |







    March 9, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. Kim, Sacramento, CA

    This shows what will happen in November if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. Democratic turnout will be huge to vote for Barack and there will be a lot of Democratic candidates who will win who might not otherwise. This is just the start of the positive "trickle down" effect of Barack Obama.

    March 9, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Linoq

    If Hillary had campaigned for the candidate I am sure the outcome would have been different!

    Wake Up Democrats, Wake up superdelegates, wake up America!

    March 9, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Was Expected

    Uh, was not unexpected. This was not an upset. Oberweis has been trying to get into politics for a while and never has been successful.

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

    This is very true.

    March 9, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. CNN makes all my posts disappear

    Sorry, talking heads and posting heads-
    when it comes to the constitutional RIGHT to vote, the advantage- political and moral- goes to the candidate who advocates for suffrage.
    So Clinton shines.

    Obama shot himself in the foot by positioning himself on the wrong side of this debate.
    Obama is starting to lose his luster.

    March 9, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Steven

    Hope in Action.

    March 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This democrat win is another example of Obama being a uniter for the party. Hillary doesn't understand the dynamics of her attacks on Obama reaches further than her own personal quest, democrats can win or lose other offices. Obama is smart and knows there is a bigger picture at stake than taking down your own party for personal gain.

    March 9, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  9. Clare

    how ridiculous! obama's ego has no limit. so now Bill Foster owes obama his win!!??

    obama grows scarier and scarier .... it seems we are in an election for the next church leader. oh yeah mighty obama ... NOT

    how do we turn off the incense and the candles that are overwhelming people's senses? WAKE UP

    NO OBAMA..EVER not even as a VP

    March 9, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. independent08

    Well this confirms what Obama has been saying all the while, the whole arguement about red states and blue states is falling apart. Left to Hillary and her supporters the democrats should not have bothered with the Chicago collar counties since they have been traditionally red . We have been told you only have to win in the traditional democratic base and leave the rest to the republicans. So much for Obama not being electable in red states.

    Obama is destroying the red blue myth while unfiying the country, he is reaching out to democrats, independents and republicans who are tired of same old same old politics.There is something happening in America people and you better believe it.

    March 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Elizabeth, NC

    Sour grapes. Ms Hanretty, one thing my third grade teacher taught me and yours obviously didn't, was that ' little drops of water make a mighty ocean', 'a journey of a thousand miles starts with a step'. Dissect that or do you need further explanation. Change is definately on its way and will reach its climax in November !!!!

    March 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Bond

    This guy supports his party. The Clintons have basically endorsed McCain. It is irresponsible or ignorant to vote for Clinton.

    March 9, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Joy from TN

    No way a Clinton should be on any ticket. Havve we not had enough of their corruption?

    March 9, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. steve

    That goes to show the strenght and vitality Sen Obama brings to the table. His candidancy would definitly change the political landscape if he eventually becomes the nominee for the Dems.
    Sen clinton on the other hand would be a liability for the party.
    Change you can believe in !

    March 9, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. This is a no brainer...

    Since this is the ONLY state Senator Obama has one that is absolutely necessary to win for the Democrats to take the White House – whoopie!

    March 9, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  16. Christian, Tampa FL

    This is excellent news and even more reason for Obama to be the Democratic nominee. He has great organization and it's obvious that voters are more willing to back him than John McCain.

    March 9, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. scat398

    Republicans, like me, will be voting for Obama this November and will support candidates he endorses. My Republican party has lost its way, and only by voting against them can we get them back on track.

    March 9, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. richceo38

    This is great for us Dems. Shows that Barack has coattails. Oh and this is another super delegate for Barack.

    March 9, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Rob Allen, Mpls., MN

    Isn't that in Illinois? And this is news, how?

    March 9, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  20. Rich

    This vote is a repudiation of the Republican economic policies. It had very little to do with the presidential campaign.

    It is one more sign that the media is tilted towards Obama that this is even a story.

    March 9, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. Curliss

    Business as usual for Obama! Say something public and do something else behind the scenes. I think its time both candidates sit down and talk about the ticket...Hillary has reached out, Obama hasn't. Seems this goes against his belief that he is a uniter and not a divider. The time is now to come together and form a good ticket. Otherwise, the only real candidate that can beat McCain is Hillary. I am just amazed that the voters for Obama cant see this. Apparently there are so many differences between Hillary and Obama supporters that both are willing to vote for McCain if their candidate isn't nominated. So, lets face the truth here...they both need to be on the ticket. Obama has already rejected, whose the divider?

    March 9, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Herman

    Thank you, Senator Barack Obama for yet making another right choice in your decision to back and help elect Bill Foster to congress.

    That leads me to believe that when the phone rings at 3:00 AM or at any other time during the day that you will most certainly always make the right choice in handling any crises that America faces.

    You sir are what America needs at this point in time in this country great history to stand up and say America is BACK...

    March 9, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. rock usula

    This country is spiraling down with Obama. Country needs to take a closer look at hype.

    March 9, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Alex

    Obama has coattails. Hillary doesn't.

    March 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. gasdocpol

    BillFoster is a physicist. It can't hurt to have someone in Congress who knows something about science.

    March 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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