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2006 Illinois  2008
Illinois's 14th congressional district special election, 2008
March 8, 2008 (2008-03-08)
Billfoster.png Replace this image male.svg
Nominee Bill Foster Jim Oberweis
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 52,010 46,988
Percentage 52.5% 47.5%

Incumbent Representative
Dennis Hastert

Bill Foster

After the resignation of Republican Party United States Congressman Dennis Hastert from his Illinois's 14th congressional district seat in the United States House of Representatives on November 26, 2007,[1] a special election was held to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the 110th United States Congress.

Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich set the special election date for March 8, 2008. The Democratic and Republican parties held special primary elections on February 5, 2008. Democrat Bill Foster won the election on March 8, 2008.





Lost Primary:


Lost Primary:

Primary elections


On May 26, 2007, John Laesch announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in an online video blog interview with Howie Klein.[7]

In the primary election, Bill Foster defeated John Laesch for the Democratic nomination by a margin of 3,739 votes (6%) in the special cycle.[8] Foster also defeated Laesch in the regular cycle, held on the same day, by a narrower margin of 323 votes (less than 1%).[9]


Chris Lauzen officially began his campaign on September 19, 2007.[10] Rudy Clai officially entered the race on October 7,[11] but withdrew less than a month later, citing dysfunction within the Illinois Republican Party.[6]

The race was very competitive between Lauzen and Oberweis. On January 15, 2008, they debated at Aurora University. During the debate, Oberweis raised questions regarding International Profit Associates, a company that donated $100,000 to Lauzen's campaign and was being investigated for widespread sexual harassment and fraud.[12]

The Chicago Tribune endorsed Oberweis, stating that had a better command on national issues.[13] Dennis Hastert endorsed Oberweis on December 13, and Kevin Burns subsequently withdrew his candidacy.[14] Lauzen received endorsements from the Aurora Beacon News, the Kane County Chronicle, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle and the Chicago Daily Herald.

Lauzen received 44% of the Republican vote to Jim Oberweis's 56% of the vote.[15] Lauzen only carried his home town of Aurora and was defeated in all other jurisdictions.[16] Oberweis also defeated Lauzen by a slightly larger margin in the regular cycle, 56-41%.[17]

General election

Negative advertisement campaign

The race for the 14th district was marked by intense negative campaigning between the regular primary elections of February 5 and the special elections of March 8. Oberweis, with $2.3 million of his own money and an additional $1 million provided by the National Republican Congressional Committee, attacked Foster on his various political stances.[18] Foster, with $1.8 million of his own money and an additional $1 million provided by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,[18] countered that Oberweis had employed illegal immigrants in his retail stores.[19]

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama appeared in a television ad for Foster that ran immediately prior to the special election. John McCain endorsed Oberweis.[20]


The Chicago Tribune endorsed Bill Foster for the seat in its March 4, 2008 edition based on Oberweis' history of "nasty, smug, condescending ... and dishonest" campaigning, and Foster's position that he would be a Blue Dog Democrat.[21] The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Oberweis as "forceful and informed", painting Foster as "poorly informed" and unable to discuss specific issues in depth.[19]


Illinois 14th District House of Representatives special election, 2008[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Bill Foster 52,010 52.5 +12.3
Republican Jim Oberweis 46,988 47.5 -12.3
Turnout 98,998
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

The election of Foster over Oberweis ended a 20 year Republican streak of holding the seat. The election of Foster also brought speculation that Republicans would lose three more seats up for re-election in the November general election, resulting in a 14–5 Democratic advantage in Congress for Illinois.[23]

Observers cited several factors explaining Foster's victory, including rapid suburbanization of Kane and Kendall Counties, Foster's position regarding the expansion of health-care and his support of immigration-reform, including a path to citizenship, and Lauzen's refusal to endorse Oberweis following the Republican primary. In contrast, Oberweis' campaign tactics were criticized, including the over use of mass mailings and automated phone calls to remind voters of the special election.[23] Reporter John Fund of The Wall Street Journal pointed to the failure of Lauzen to endorse Oberweis, Hastert's preference for "self-funded" but unskilled candidates, and local reviews that the NRCC ads were "nasty," "stupid," "largely incomprehensible" and "factless" as additional reasons why Foster won the seat. By contrast, Fund noted that the Democratic party spent much of its funding on an ad featuring Obama touting Foster's credentials as a physicist and problem-solver.[24]

Governor Rod Blagojevich had scheduled the special election for Saturday, March 8 in an attempt to increase voter turnout. However, the election drew a low voter turnout, with only 22 percent of registered voters participating.[25][26]

Although it was initially thought that Foster would not be sworn in until April due to the need to count absentee ballots before the election would be certified, he took the oath of office on March 11.[27] On his first day in office he cast the deciding vote[28] to keep from tabling an ethics bill that would create an independent outside panel to investigate ethics complaints against House members.[29]

Foster's victory was the first time a House seat flipped parties in a special election since Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin won the open South Dakota at-large seat of Republican Bill Janklow in June 2004.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "Hastert submits official resignation letter". Associated Press. 2007-11-26. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  2. ^ "Illinois - Summary Vote Results". Digital Chicago, Inc.. February 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  3. ^ a b Cillizza, Chris (2007-08-16). "Analysis: Can Dems Pick Up Hastert and Pryce Seats?". The Fix. Retrieved 2008-03-17.  
  4. ^ a b c Hastert backs Oberweis, Burns drops out James Kimberly. December 14, 2007. Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ The Beacon News: HOLY COW! But Democrats Laesch, Foster duking it out (February 6, 2008)
  6. ^ a b Parro, Dave (2007-11-05). "Republican candidate withdraws, criticizes party". Beacon Blog. Sun-Times News Group. Retrieved 2008-03-17.  
  7. ^ Klein, Howie (2007-05-26). "Blue America Live Vlog with John Laesch". Firedoglake. Retrieved 2007-08-21.  
  8. ^ "Special primary election results". Chicago Sun-Times. 2008-02-05.  
  9. ^ "Regular primary election results". Chicago Sun-Times. 2008-02-05.  
  10. ^ Kraushaar, Josh (2007-09-15). "Conservative Enters Race For Hastert's Seat". The Politico (CBS News). Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  11. ^ Salles, Andre (2007-09-30). "Entertainment promoter is 7th candidate in 14th District race". The Beacon News (Sun-Times News Group). Retrieved 2008-03-17.  
  12. ^ Kimberly, James (2008-01-16). "Oberweis slams Lauzen, citing delay in return of campaign contribution". Chicago Tribune.,1,5962746.story. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  13. ^ "More choices for Congress" (Editorial). Chicago Tribune. 2008-01-16.,0,1151742.story. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  14. ^ Kevin Burns for Congress
  15. ^ February 5, 2008 - Super Tuesday Special Primary by The Sun times.
  16. ^ Oberweis gets GOP nod by The Beacon News.
  17. ^ February 5, 2008 - Super Tuesday Regular Primary by The Sun times.
  18. ^ a b Kimberly, James (2008-03-09). "Race to replace Hastert is in national spotlight - But November brings a rematch". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  19. ^ a b Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board (2008-03-06). "Jim Oberweis for the U.S. House". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  20. ^ Kimberly, James (2008-03-08). "Vote today, but it's just Round One". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  21. ^ Chicago Tribune Editorial Board (2008-03-04). "For Congress: Bill Foster". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-09.  
  22. ^ General election results March 8, 2008. Chicago Tribune.
  23. ^ a b Pearson, Rick (2008-03-10). "Foster win a big blow to GOP - Loss of Hastert's seat, Obama's rise could further hurt party in other races". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  
  24. ^ Fund, John (2008-03-10). "Reagan Country Votes Democratic". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  
  25. ^ Sarkauskas, Susan (2008-03-09). "Foster takes Hastert's seat". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  
  26. ^ Kimberly, James (2008-03-09). "Foster takes seat from GOP - Democrat to succeed Hastert in Republican stronghold". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  
  27. ^ Hague, Leslie (2008-03-11). "Foster sworn into Congress". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-12.  
  28. ^ "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 121". 2008-03-11.  
  29. ^ Jim Tankersley. "First day, swing vote for new Rep. Bill Foster". Baltimore Sun.  
  30. ^ Giroux, Greg (2008-03-10). "Unusual Party Flip in Illinois Special Election". CQ Politics. Retrieved 2008-03-10.  


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