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. Jim in FL

    So Hillary ahead in the PA polls is a sign of changing momentum to some above !! Whoop-tee-friggin-doo ! A week after PA are NC and IN, totalling more than PA, and Obama has commanding leads there ! PA is Hillary's "last hurrah", if even that.

    This special election is another sign that many "under-tickets" want Obama on top of the ticket. Hillary's endorsement is quickly becoming a "thanks, but no thanks" proposition.

    March 9, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. John Bloomington Indiana

    The Republicans have only themselves to blame.The arrogance, the awful foreign policy decisions....Bush, Cheney, Wolfewiz, Feith and those who were responsible for this horror and deceived the american public into going along, will never be punished.
    Those of us who would like to see them punished have to settle for these little "justice's".....elections.

    March 9, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Anne

    Get ready America! Change is coming.

    Obama '08

    March 9, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Can't Believe it isn't butter

    Holy cajesus. What don't you guys at CNN just bow down at your new found kings feet and be done with it.

    March 9, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. june

    CNN I notice you have set out to prove to Clintonite's that you are not pro-Obama by belittling Obama's victory in Wyoming, failing to focus on the fact that Hillary Clinton's team NOT Barack Obama's campaign were the ones who called Canada ACCORDING TO THE CANADIAN GOV'T (what clintonites you going to call an international sovereign government liars too???!!!), and by limitting your coverage to Obama's connection with Reznko (Obama by the way has given away ALL donations from Reznko to charity) and failing to mention that HILLARY CLINTON HAS FINANCIAL TIES TO REZNKO AS WELL.
    so much for freedom of speech didnt know CNN could be bought by the clinton machine too.
    OH BY THE WAY CNN publish this comment.... don't worry I'm a Clinton supporter "really"

    March 9, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. moderate dem

    So now Obama has coattails? The arrogance is incredible. And Kerry this morning saying Hillary wants to change the rules and then saying that everyone's vote should count. This is why you lost Kerry and gave us 4 more years of Bush.

    March 9, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. HH

    This is why we NEED OBAMA, he can win seats for both the congress and senate that democrats would never have a chance with Hillary.

    March 9, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Charlotte, PA

    If Hillary supporters only have Saturday Night Live and muckraking to rely on, they're never going to get this old lady's vote.

    March 9, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Dave in Florida

    The coattails of Obama is unmistakeable. If Bilary is the nominee, not only will John McCain win in a landslide, there will be a resounding defeat for democrat congressional seats throughout the country.

    The Republicans/ Rush Limbaugh want Bilary as the nominee that's why he told millions of his listeners to vote for her in the Texas and Ohio primaries, because she's the easiest opponent to defeat, and the yet unrevealed scandals that they're going to release in the general election against them.

    No to Bush!

    No to McCain!

    No to Clinton!!!!

    Obama in 08!!!!!!!!

    March 9, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. TJ

    As a resident of this district let me explain how big a deal this is. Our congressional district consists of part of DuPage County, (a Dan Rostenkowski stronghold and one of the most Republican counties in the nation), Kane county, (which has two large urban areas, Aurora and Elgin, but still usually goes Republican) and a swath of farmland all the way to Western Illinois, (which would presumably go to Oberwies, the Republican dairy farmer who has promised to keep taxes low). I did not see this coming at all.

    March 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. John

    I am not sure why people seem to think Clinton winning Pennsylvania is going to mean anything, she is too far behind in delegates and winning just the big states will not win an election... see Bush Vs. Gore.

    The people have spoken, it is time for change, Bill Foster won the seat in a district that has never elected a democrat!

    March 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Sanjay Sathe

    Bush carried that district by 56% in 2004

    if a district that he carried by 56% goes to a Democrat by 53% how many "Red States" are in play?

    March 9, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Go Independant,Obama

    Sheri, I agree that an independent run would good for Obama if Hillary steals the nomination. Which looks like what is going to happen.

    We sure wont vote for her and I dont want to vote forn McCAin.
    And lets face it, the democactaic party will be finished by AUgust when their self destruction is complete. The split is irreconcilable.

    So I say Obama as independantt president candidate which ruins Hillary's run and gives a good run with McCain. If he loses against McCAin, so be it. AT least it the race would be with 2 honorable candidates and a relic of old dem politics. I would welcome that contest

    March 9, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  14. vrk

    For those of you saying Obama is arrogant for taking credit for this, point me to where Obama actually says this result had anything to do with him. Cue sound of crickets chirping.

    March 9, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. From PA

    This is the only window of oppurtunity Obama has to win for presidency.

    #1 if he does win-he will not get re-elected....he will be known as one of the worst president.....yet again duped the public

    aka Bush-who also said he was for change and can bring people together

    #2 he just started as a senator...few more will see his stance and what difference if any he made

    #3 he will create enemies in politics

    If a driver who drove for 1 week was in one accident and

    a driver who drove for 1 year was in 2 accidents----DOES THAT MAKE THE DRIVER WHO DROVE FOR 1 WEEK BETTER????

    March 9, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  16. Judy

    Any of you Hillary lovers have buyers remorse now? Barack has just filled a GOP seat with a democratic butt! The RNC used McCain and spent million and still lost.

    Barack is not JUST WORDS, he backs them up with ACTIONS!

    Go Obama!

    March 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Universal Bob

    In this race, there was a repeating commercial with Barak Obama supporting Foster as the candidate for the change we need in Washington. There was nothing with Hillary Clinton. Barak Obama represents the future of the party and Hillary Clinton is the past with partisanship and red and blue states, She is currently even touting McCain over Obama. Why? Because she is ready to break the democrats if they won't have her as the nominee.

    March 9, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Marie

    I think the voters are aware enough to know that for any change to really happen in this country, the Democratic Party has to have a larger majority in Congress. Otherwise it is just a tug of war with the Republicans, and nothing gets done. Americans are already taking the first steps to make sure this happens. We know that any candidate can claim to be the candidate of change, but without Congressional support, nothing gets done. With these election results, the Republicans should be concerned about their chances in the fall, but it is only one election,and November is miles away by election standards.
    And I too find it interesting that there is a picture of Obama with this article, and not the winning candidate, Bill Foster? Come on....I don't think Obama can claim the credit for this, though looks like he is getting it....

    March 9, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. tom

    McCain 08

    March 9, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Sunny

    I think Obama really wants Oprah to be his VP. So, he might as well be a independent. I'm sure he will get all the support especially with fanatics for Oprah for President and Obama for VP!!!!! GO INDEPENDENCE!!! Why don't we start separating the states into tiny little countries so that Barack and Oprah can rule. Go America. Divide our country.

    March 9, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. here

    If Obama wins the Democratic party Nomination, I WILL VOTE FOR HIM, if Hillary Gets it, I WILL VOTE FOR HER. I WILL NOT VOTE FOR Mcain. I wish Obama wins but if he doesnt i will remain credible.

    March 9, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Steve

    Bill and Hillary behind the nafta gate scandal. They framed innocent Obama and stole the voice of the people of Texas and Ohio. This is all over the news in Canada but not in U.S. medias. Except it was reported in MSNBC. Hillary supporters should know and face the truth. The truth will prevail soon. Obama 08

    March 9, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. wise

    i'm really surprised about the big deal all of cnn & msnbc has said about the wyoming caucus that produced only 7000 votes like it was a big deal this made me laugh. Obama must be their true idle spelled right. Make him (Obama) tell the world, how his plan to change will work, and be precise on details. The news people have put him on the mountain and real issues are never fully brought out>

    To be honest , i'll never vote for him because I see no truth in him>

    March 9, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Metro, IN

    This entire election has Barack to thank for taking the cloak off of the Washington of yesterday, and giving Americans the chance to take our country back. He has changed the way people think about their government, and brought more young people into this process.

    Thanks Barack,

    Obama 08

    March 9, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Dan

    At least they won without the help of Tony Rezko, we can't say the same for Obama. He still has not answered what he did to get a $300,000 gift in the form of a land deal with Rezko when he bought his home. This won't go away no matter how the media tries to change the subject. Mabe because people are taking the news in their own hands with the internet. But its been basically the 2 cable networks, eventually they'll have to start to report reality or start to loose credibility which transfers into lost listners, bad for business.

    March 9, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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