Sunday, March 09, 2008

Dems pick up Hastert seat

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Democrat Bill Foster beat Republican Jim Oberweis in yesterday's special election to fill the Illinois House seat vacated by retiring former Speaker Dennis Hastert.

With all precincts reporting, Foster was up 53 to 47.

We shouldn't make too much of this -- Foster and Oberweis will go up against each other again in November in the general election; interest in this special election was low, resulting in low turnout -- but the result is nonetheless quite significant, a promising sign for the Dems heading into November. It may not be "the shot of change heard around the world," as Rahm Emanual put it so dramatically, but Foster won easily what has historically been a solidly Republican district, Illinois's 14th, which spreads west from Chicago's western suburbs through GOP territory in the northern part of the state.

The Republicans are full of excuses -- Foster was a weak candidate given his past electoral losses, there is "no national trend this entire election season," it was just a special election -- but they just lost one of their safest and most important seats to a Democrat who wants to end the war in Iraq. I'd say the message is pretty clear.

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