Giannoulias knows there is a lot at stake.
The seat is
one of the most coveted in the nation and the GOP believes five-term
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk -- a moderate who long has fared well among
independent voters -- can capture it and help chip away at the
"Come November, congressman, your days as a Washington insider
are over," Giannoulias said at his victory party Tuesday night.
Kirk was more low-key, telling supporters voters are tired of
"The people of Illinois now see the arrogance of a one-party
state, and this election will show that we will not surrender to
their dangerous cynicism of low expectations, because we are
Americans and we can do anything," Kirk said.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Kirk had 416,853 votes,
or 57 percent, easily trouncing the field of five other little-known
Giannoulias had 345,265 votes, or 39 percent, and his closest
competitor, former city of Chicago inspector general David Hoffman,
had 298,845 votes, or 34 percent. Two other candidates, including
Chicago Urban League chief Cheryle Jackson, were in the race and
another recently dropped out.
Giannoulias supporters acknowledged that winning in November
won't be easy but said losing Obama's seat to a Republican is not an
"In the end of it, we're not going to stray away from who we are,
and that's a state that elects Democrats," said Joe Costigan, a
53-year-old union official from Oak Park.
There were tough fights in two key congressional races in
Illinois, including an open seat from the Chicago suburbs that Kirk
gave up to run for Senate.
But the big prize is the Senate seat Obama vacated when he was
elected president -- especially important to both parties after an
upset win by the GOP in Massachusetts cost the Democrats the late
Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat.
Republicans have targeted Obama's seat since Roland Burris was
appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich after Blagojevich was accused
of trying to sell the seat. Tainted by the circumstances of his
appointment, Burris decided against running for a full term.
Democrats, meanwhile, are gunning for the seat Kirk managed to
hold on to even though his suburban 10th Congressional District, a
mix of wealthy and blue collar communities north of Chicago, has
trended Democratic in recent years.
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Dan Seals, a business consultant who lost twice to Kirk, earned the
Democratic nod. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Seals had
22,558 votes, or 48 percent, compared with his closest competitor,
veteran state Rep. Julie Hamos. Hamos had 21,947 votes, or 47
Pest-control company head Robert Dold won the Republican
nomination by defeating veteran state Rep. Elizabeth Coulson and
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Dold had 18,352, or 39
percent, and Coulson had 14,442, or 31 percent.
Republicans also are trying to take back former House Speaker
Dennis Hastert's seat in Illinois' 14th Congressional District,
which stretches from west of Chicago to almost the Mississippi
Hastert's 31-year-old son, Ethan, tried to make the most of his
family name, but he met resistance from some conservatives and lost
the GOP nod to former state Rep. Randy Hultgren, who had cast
Hastert as inexperienced.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Hultgren had 34,735, or
55 percent, and Hastert had 28,745, or 45 percent.
The Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, was unopposed in
the primary. Foster took the once-reliable GOP stronghold away from
Republicans in a 2008 special election after Dennis Hastert retired.
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