The Local Congressional Campaigns

By Jake Eisendrath

Nearly three weeks after the election, one Illinois congressional campaign is still making news .  In the 14th district race between incumbent Lauren Underwood and challenger Jim Oberweis, the Associated Press has called the race for Underwood but Oberweis is demanding a recount.  Underwood, a Democrat, won the race by over 5,000 votes but Oberweis says he would like to see what’s called a “discovery recount” to see if there is a need for a full recount.

Illinois law allows discovery recounts of up to 25% of the district’s 462 precincts.  If any problems are detected, a judge could grant a petition for a full recount. In a statement, Oberweis said “We owe it to the 400,000 people who voted in this election to do all we can to ensure that the final outcome is the right outcome.”

The Underwood campaign said: “Mr. Oberweis falsely declared victory with more than 20,000 votes outstanding.  Now that he’s officially lost, he wants a recount.  Regardless of Mr.Oberweis’ bluster, the results in this race will remain the same: this community voted in historic numbers to re-elect Congresswoman Lauren Underwood.”

Also,: On Friday, November 13th, Oberweis posted a photo of himself on Facebook attending the freshman orientation for newly elected members in Washington, D.C. even though the race had been called for Underwood the night before. Underwood had no comment about this.

Downstate in the 13th district rematch between GOP incumbent Rodney Davis and Democratic challengers Betsy Dirksen Londrigan the pre-election polls showing the candidates neck and neck were way off.  Davis won re-election to his 5th term by almost 10 points : 54% to 45%.  In the 2018 contest between these two candidates, the race was much closer with Davis winning by just 1 one point.

Davis told reporters President Trump helped him win this race. “You saw a surge in areas that were supporting the president, and that surge actually helped me.  I’d like to think that we helped each other in a lot of the areas in this district,” Davis said. In her concessions speech, Londrigan said, “At every turn when hurdles were thrown up, we figured out how to clear them and keep running strong. I wish we had been able to clear this last hurdle.”

The third campaign I covered for WCRX election coverage was Democrat Sean Casten vs. Republican Jeanne Ives in the 6th congressional district.   Casten was re-elected for his second term with a 52% to 45% win over Ives.   The third candidate in the race, Libertarian Bill Redpath won 2% of the vote in the west suburban district. Due to the coronavirus, Casten’s election night party was held at a drive-in movie theater where he talked about the 6th district. “The district has a set of values that are consistent right smack in the middle of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and are nowhere near the homophobia, the racism, the misogyny of a Trump and now increasingly QAnon Republican Party,” Casten said,

In her campaign Ives, a former state representative, embraced President Trump and fought against coronavirus restrictions.  In her concession statement she said “In this election, we ran against – not only Sean Casten – but members of both parties’ establishments, the media and other institutions that have protected entrenched interests for decades.  My team fought hard, but in the end the power of the opposition was too great. It is somewhat unclear to me what lies ahead for Illinoisans.”

These were three interesting campaigns that I got to follow over these last few months.  Because of the coronavirus, my coverage was all virtual so that made everything a little less engaging.  If things were different, I might have been able to actually go to the districts to talk to voters and to cover election night results live and in person. 




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