Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat in Illinois

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In summary, the 14th Congressional District of Illinois recently held a special election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The district has traditionally voted Republican, but Democrats are making a strong push with the help of prominent figures like Senator Barack Obama. The candidates in the election were Bill Foster, a Democrat and physicist, and Jim Oberweis, a Republican and business owner. Despite the district's history, Foster was able to win the election, signaling a potential shift in the district's demographics and the changing nature of the Illinois Republican Party. The national parties have also been involved in the race, with both spending millions on their respective candidates. Foster's victory is seen as a demonstration of Obama's electoral influence and a sign of potential success for Democratic
  • #1
Astronuc
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http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87974972

Morning Edition, March 7, 2008 · In Illinois, residents in the 14th Congressional District vote Saturday in a special election to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Democrats are pulling out the big guns, including ads by Sen. Barack Obama, to help their candidate. Traditionally, the district has voted for Republicans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois'_14th_congressional_district

Bill Foster (D) - Physicist and business owner
vs
Jim Oberweis (R) - Business owner

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois's_14th_congressional_district_special_election,_2008

It will be interesting to see if a democrat will be elected in a heavily republican district.
 
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  • #2
In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a collaborator of Bill's for over a decade, and I am a minor contributor to his campaign. I also disagree with him on many of the positions he holds.

I think this analysis is not so simple. The "Heavily Republican District", like most districts, was gerrymandered almost a decade ago to be a safe seat for the incumbent. The demographics of this district are continually changing, and today it's much less rural and more suburban, overall more affluent, but with more entrenched pockets of poverty. At the same time, the Illinois Republican Party has transformed themselves from a good governance/anti-machine party that wasn't very strong on ideology (and kept winning elections) to one that is much more ideological in nature (and keeps losing them). Some of the people behind this change refer to the transition as "the great RINO hunt".

Jim Oberweis is perhaps the archetype of this new Illinois republican He is also a perpetual candidate who has thus far failed to be elected to public office.

So I don't think it's quite so clear. I also don't think that it's valid to draw national inferences based on the result of this election.
 
  • #3
Vanadium 50 said:
I also don't think that it's valid to draw national inferences based on the result of this election.
Absolutely, but the media and the parties like to discuss local matters as though it does reflect a national trend, e.g. if you vote D or R locally, that automatically infers support for the D and R presidential candidate. I think (I hope) that folks are smarter than that.
 
  • #4
Astronuc said:
It will be interesting to see if a democrat will be elected in a heavily republican district.
Or a physicist in a district full of mathematicians. If there is a record of him assuming that all functions are smooth, I'm sure the Republicans will make the most of it.
 
  • #5
Bill Foster just won the special election over Republican Jim Oberweis. (Pending the recounts, of course) Out of 28768 registered voters, 6519 voted, 3294 for Foster, 3216 for Oberweis, and 9 for other candidates.
 
  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
Bill Foster just won the special election over Republican Jim Oberweis. (Pending the recounts, of course) Out of 28768 registered voters, 6519 voted, 3294 for Foster, 3216 for Oberweis, and 9 for other candidates.
That's a small turnout, and I as previously mentioned, it doesn't seem as significant as both parties make it out to be. It seems a pretty close race.

Democrat claims Hastert's former congressional seat
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/03/09/obama-backed-candidate-scores-upset-win/
(CNN) – A Democratic victory in a special election to fill the congressional seat held by former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert is a sign of things to come, according to the party. Barack Obama’s campaign says it’s a demonstration of his electoral coattails.

First-time candidate Bill Foster, a physicist, beat Republican Jim Oberweis, a money manager and head of a giant dairy. The national Republican Party spent millions on his behalf.

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Foster’s victory demonstrated to Republican candidates that “Senator (John) McCain, who campaigned with the Republican nominee, cannot save them from defeat this November against strong Democratic challengers, even in districts that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush.”

The race had shaped up to be a presidential face-off of sorts, with McCain stumping for Oberweis and Obama backing Foster.
I think the media overplays the significance.
 
  • #7
The election was held on a Saturday, which is unusual, and both sides seem to think helped the other guy. (I guess that probably means it was fair)

So far as I know, neither presidential candidate "stumped" for anyone, in the sense of appearing with them on the podium. Both Senators McCain and Obama made television ads. While it's true that the national GOP spent millions on Oberweis, it's also true that the national Democratic party spent millions on Foster. I think the biggest parallels that can be drawn is that both Congressman Foster and Senator Obama's campaigns drew in people who would otherwise not be politically active. (I don't remember the exact number, but something like 75% of Foster's contributors had never given to a political campaign before) But it's far from certain that Senator Obama will be the Democratic nominee.
 
  • #8
Mr. Foster Goes to Washington

From Physics to Politics: Mr. Foster Goes to Washington

The newest PhD in Congress advises disgruntled scientists to get involved in the political process

When physicist Bill Foster was contemplating a congressional run in his Illinois home district, he got some helpful advice from others who had made the jump from science to politics. He was told, he says, that he should branch out from science policy and "bring a scientific view to the full range of issues."

Foster, 52, who spent 22 years as a scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Ill., now has his shot after defeating Republican James Oberweis in a March 8 special election to finish out the term of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), who resigned in November. Sworn in on March 11, he joins two other PhDs in Congress—Reps. Rush Holt (D–N.J.) and Vernon Ehlers (R–Mich.)—both physicists.

Democrats hailed the victory—in what has long been a solidly Republican district—as a sign of voter dissatisfaction with the policies of the Bush administration. But the win was also a hopeful sign for scientists who have watched from the sidelines in disbelief as politicians cut science funding and distorted research on evolution, stem cells and global warming.

Foster says he wants to bring his "fact-based" approach to issues such as health care and energy. " the starting point is always the facts of the matter, whereas often in politics the starting point is how does this play in the next election," he says.

He has the scientific credentials to back up his talk: In graduate school at Harvard University in the early 1980s, Foster worked on the IMB (Irving-Michigan-Brookhaven) proton decay detector, a cube of purified water 60 feet (18 meters) wide constructed deep inside a salt mine located under the shore of Lake Erie. Lined with highly sensitive light-detecting tubes, the experiment was designed to test so-called grand unified theories (GUT) of particle physics, which predicted that protons in the water would very rarely split into lighter particles and produce a flash of blue light. Foster's 1983 PhD thesis contained some of the detector's first published data, which ruled out the simplest GUT.

:cool: We need more scientists in Washington!
 
  • #9
Dr. Foster becomes Mr. Foster when he enters politics, eh?
 
  • #10
No, the Mr. is short for "Master".
 
  • #11
Scientists do pretty wel in politics think of "[URL="[PLAIN]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Merkel"[/URL] in Germany.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #12
No wonder she cringed when Bush tried to give her a back rub. She was afraid he would suck out all her intelligence from her.

Osmosis is a powerful thing, you know.
 

Related to Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat in Illinois

1. What is the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" in Illinois?

The "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" in Illinois refers to the ongoing political competition to fill the seat left vacant by former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan, who served as Speaker for over 30 years, resigned from his position in February 2021 amid a federal corruption probe.

2. Who is involved in the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat"?

The main players in the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" are Democratic politicians vying for the position, including Majority Leader Greg Harris, Assistant Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, and Representative Ann Williams. Other potential candidates may also enter the race as well.

3. How will the winner of the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" be determined?

The winner of the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" will be determined by a vote among the 118 members of the Illinois House of Representatives. The candidate who receives a majority of votes (60 votes) will become the new House Speaker.

4. What impact will the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" have on Illinois politics?

The outcome of the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" will have a significant impact on Illinois politics. The Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful positions in state government, and the individual who holds this position has a significant influence over legislation and budgetary decisions.

5. When will the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" be resolved?

It is currently unclear when the "Battle for Ex-House Speaker's Seat" will be resolved. The Illinois House of Representatives is expected to vote for a new Speaker during their session on January 13th, but it is possible that the vote may be delayed if a consensus cannot be reached among the candidates.

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