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, a special election was held to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the 110th United States Congress.
Illinois Governor 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 owner
- John Laesch, 2006 Democratic candidate for Congress
- Jotham Stein, attorney
- Jim Oberweis, 2002 Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, 2004 Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, 2006 Republican candidate for Governor, owner of Oberweis Dairy
- Chris Lauzen, Illinois State Senator
Chris Lauzen officially began his campaign on September 19, 2007. Rudy Clai officially entered the race on October 7, 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.
The Chicago Tribune endorsed Oberweis, stating that had a better command on national issues. Dennis Hastert endorsed Oberweis on December 13, and Kevin Burns subsequently withdrew his candidacy. Lauzen received endorsements from the Aurora Beacon News, the Kane County Chronicle, the DeKalb Daily Chronicle and the Chicago Daily Herald.
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. 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.
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. The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Oberweis as "forceful and informed", painting Foster as "poorly informed" and unable to discuss specific issues in depth.
|Democratic gain from Republican|
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.
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 overuse 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.
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.
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. On his first day in office he cast the deciding vote to keep from tabling an ethics bill that would create an independent outside panel to investigate ethics complaints against House members.
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.
- List of special elections to the United States House of Representatives
- 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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- Salles, Andre (2007-09-30). "Entertainment promoter is 7th candidate in 14th District race" (PDF). The Beacon News. Sun-Times News Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-10. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
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- 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.
- Fund, John (2008-03-10). "Reagan Country Votes Democratic". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- Sarkauskas, Susan (2008-03-09). "Foster takes Hastert's seat". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- Kimberly, James (2008-03-09). "Foster takes seat from GOP - Democrat to succeed Hastert in Republican stronghold". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- Hague, Leslie (2008-03-11). "Foster sworn into Congress". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 121". 2008-03-11.
- Jim Tankersley. "First day, swing vote for new Rep. Bill Foster". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 2008-03-17.
- Giroux, Greg (2008-03-10). "Unusual Party Flip in Illinois Special Election". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on 2008-11-09. Retrieved 2008-03-10.