CHICAGO – The hand-picked successors of retiring Republican Rep. Henry Hyde and Democratic Rep. Lane Evans, who together spent more than a half-century in Congress, were elected Tuesday as the only new members of Congress from Illinois.
Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean retained her seat in Chicago's affluent northwest suburbs, fending off a challenge from millionaire investment bankerDavid McSweeney in a district targeted by national Republicans, shocked two years ago when Bean unseated 35-year House veteran Phil Crane.
Still, although the House in Washington was destined to change over to Democratic control for the first time since 1994, the state's own delegation will remain as it has, 10-9 in favor of Democrats.
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Summing up why he could not win back the 8th District seat Crane held for so long, McSweeney, who spent more than $2 million of his own money on his campaign, said: "It was a bad day for Republicans. We got wiped out here in the state of Illinois, lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives."
Bean's relatively moderate voting record helped guard against some of the usual criticism aimed at Democrats. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed her candidacy, a rarity for a Democrat.
"This is a district that's proven that results matter and that they will look at performance over party and that they'll choose ideas over ideology," she told a cheering crowd in a victory speech. "I thank you for that because that's important to keep our democracy working the way that it should."
With 425 of 519 precincts counted in unofficial returns, Bean had 50 percent of the votes, compared to 44 percent for McSweeney and 5 percent for Moderate Party candidate Bill Scheurer.
State Sen. Peter Roskam, a conservative from Wheaton, won the open 6th District House seat created by the retirement of Hyde, the 32-year veteran and chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
Roskam edged out a political newcomer, Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both of her legs in combat and was recruited for the race in Chicago's northwest suburbs by some of the state's leading Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.
With 430 of 522 precincts counted in unofficial returns, Roskam had 52 percent, to Duckworth's 48 percent.
In west central Illinois, Phil Hare, a lifelong friend and aide to Evans during his 24-year House career, easily defeated former TV newswoman Andrea Zinga in the 17th Congressional District, which includes parts of Rock Island, Decatur and Springfield.
After winning the March primary, Evans announced he would retire due the effects of his decade-long battle with Parkinson's Disease, and Democratic committeemen chose Hare as the party's new nominee.
With 491 of 749 precincts counted in unofficial returns, Hare had 55 percent, to 45 percent for Zinga.
In Chicago's northwest suburbs, third-term Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, a former aide to his predecessor, popular Rep. John Porter, touted his moderate views and it was good enough to edge out Democratic challenger Dan Seals in the 10th District.
With 401 of 561 precincts counted in unofficial returns, Kirk had 53 percent; Seals had 47 percent.
Seals, a black marketing executive who was born on Chicago's South Side and was the son of a Chicago Bears football player, only began receiving support from the House Democrats' national fundraising committee in the final days of the campaign when polling data made it appear that Kirk was vulnerable.