Illinois's 14th congressional district special election, 2008

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,cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Hastert submits official resignation letter |url= |work= |publisher=Associated Press |date=2007-11-26 |accessdate=2008-03-09] 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.



* Bill Foster - Physicist and business ownercite web |url= |publisher= Digital Chicago, Inc. |title= Illinois - Summary Vote Results |date= February 27, 2008 |accessdate= 2008-03-09 ] ( [ Campaign website] )

;Lost Primary:
* John Laesch - Hastert's 2006 challengercite web |url= |title=Analysis: Can Dems Pick Up Hastert and Pryce Seats? |accessdate=2008-03-17 |last=Cillizza |first=Chris |date=2007-08-16 |work=The Fix |] ( [ Campaign website] )
* Joe Serra - Geneva resident [,0,5823862.story Hastert backs Oberweis, Burns drops out] James Kimberly. December 14, 2007. "Chicago Tribune".]
* Jotham Stein - St. Charles resident


* Jim Oberweis - Business owner [,2_1_AU06_SUMMARY_S1.article The Beacon News: HOLY COW! But Democrats Laesch, Foster duking it out (February 6, 2008)] ] ( [ Campaign website] )

;Lost Primary:
* Chris Lauzen - Illinois State Senator, 25th district ( [ Campaign website] )

* Kevin Burns - Mayor of Geneva, Illinois ( [ Campaign website] )
* Rudy Clai - North Aurora entertainment promotercite web |url= |title=Republican candidate withdraws, criticizes party |accessdate=2008-03-17 |author=Parro, Dave |date=2007-11-05 |work=Beacon Blog |publisher=Sun-Times News Group] ( [ Campaign website] )

Primary elections


On May 26, 2007, John Laesch announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in an online video blog interview with Howie Klein. [cite web| last =Klein| first =Howie| authorlink =Howie Klein| title =Blue America Live Vlog with John Laesch| work =Firedoglake| publisher =| date =2007-05-26| url =| accessdate =2007-08-21]

In the primary election, Bill Foster beat John Laesch by 31,910 (42.4%) to 31,587 (42.0%) , a margin of only 323 votes.


Chris Lauzen officially began his campaign on September 19, 2007.cite news |first=Josh |last=Kraushaar |title=Conservative Enters Race For Hastert's Seat |url= |work=The Politico |publisher=CBS News |date=2007-09-15 |accessdate=2008-03-09] Rudy Clai officially entered the race on October 7, [cite news |first=Andre |last=Salles |title=Entertainment promoter is 7th candidate in 14th District race |url= |work=The Beacon News |publisher=Sun-Times News Group |date=2007-09-30 |accessdate=2008-03-17] but withdrew less than a month later, citing dysfunction within the Illinois Republican Party.

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.cite news |first=James |last=Kimberly |title=Oberweis slams Lauzen, citing delay in return of campaign contribution |url=,1,5962746.story |publisher=Chicago Tribune |date=2008-01-16 |accessdate=2008-03-09]

The Chicago Tribune endorsed Oberweis, stating that had a better command on national issues.cite news |title=More choices for Congress |url=,0,1151742.story |format=Editorial |publisher=Chicago Tribune |date=2008-01-16 |accessdate=2008-03-09] Dennis Hastert endorsed Oberweis on December 13, and Kevin Burns subsequently withdrew his candidacy. [ Kevin Burns for Congress] ] Lauzen received endorsements from the Aurora Beacon News, the Kane County Chronicle, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle and the Chicago Daily Herald.

Lauzen received 41% of the Republican vote to Jim Oberweis's 56% of the vote. [ [ February 5, 2008 - Super Tuesday] by "The Sun times".] Lauzen only carried his home town of Aurora and was defeated in all other jurisdictions. [ [,AU05_14THDIST_GOP_ELECT.article Oberweis gets GOP nod] by "The Beacon News".]

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.cite news |url= |title=Race to replace Hastert is in national spotlight - But November brings a rematch |date=2008-03-09 |accessdate=2008-03-09 |author=Kimberly, James |publisher=Chicago Tribune] Foster, with $1.8 million of his own money and an additional $1 million provided by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, countered that Oberweis had employed illegal immigrants in his retail stores.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama appeared in a television ad for Foster that ran immediately prior to the special election. John McCain endorsed Oberweis.cite news |url= |title=Vote today, but it's just Round One |date=2008-03-08 |accessdate=2008-03-09 |publisher=Chicago Tribune |author=Kimberly, James]


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.cite news |url= |title=For Congress: Bill Foster |publisher=Chicago Tribune |date=2008-03-04 |accessdate=2008-03-09 |author=Chicago Tribune Editorial Board] The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Oberweis as "forceful and informed", painting Foster as "poorly informed" and unable to discuss specific issues in depth.cite news |url= |title=Jim Oberweis for the U.S. House |publisher=Chicago Sun-Times |date=2008-03-06 |accessdate=2008-03-09 |author=Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board]


Election box candidate with party link
party = Democratic Party (United States)
candidate = Bill Foster
votes = 52,010
percentage = 52.5
change = +12.3
Election box candidate with party link
party = Republican Party (United States)
candidate = Jim Oberweis
votes = 46,988
percentage = 47.5
change = -12.3
Election box turnout
votes = 98,998
percentage =
change =
Election box gain with party link
winner = Democratic Party (US)
loser = Republican Party (US)
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.cite news |publisher=Chicago Tribune |date=2008-03-10 |accessdate=2008-03-10 |author=Pearson, Rick |title=Foster win a big blow to GOP - Loss of Hastert's seat, Obama's rise could further hurt party in other races |url=]

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. 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.cite news |publisher=The Wall Street Journal |author=Fund, John |date=2008-03-10 |accessdate=2008-03-10 |title=Reagan Country Votes Democratic |url=]

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. [cite news|author=Sarkauskas, Susan|publisher="Daily Herald"|title=Foster takes Hastert's seat|url=|date=2008-03-09|accessdate=2008-03-10] cite news |title=Foster takes seat from GOP - Democrat to succeed Hastert in Republican stronghold |date=2008-03-09 |accessdate=2008-03-10 |author=Kimberly, James |publisher=Chicago Tribune |url=]

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.cite news |url= |publisher=Daily Herald |title=Foster sworn into Congress |date=2008-03-11 |accessdate=2008-03-12 |author=Hague, Leslie] On his first day in office he cast the deciding vote [cite news | url= | title=FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 121 | date=2008-03-11] to keep from tabling an ethics bill that would create an independent outside panel to investigate ethics complaints against House members. [cite news | url= | title=First day, swing vote for new Rep. Bill Foster | author=Jim Tankersley | publisher=Baltimore Sun]

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.cite web |url= |title=Unusual Party Flip in Illinois Special Election |date=2008-03-10 |accessdate=2008-03-10 |author=Giroux, Greg |publisher=CQ Politics]

ee also

*United States House of Representatives elections in Illinois, 2008
*Louisiana's 6th congressional district special election, 2008
*Mississippi's 1st congressional district special election, 2008


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