Foster headed back to Congress
Newly elected congressman Bill Foster waves to supporters before giving an acceptance speech in Bolingbrook on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:16AM
Naperville Democrat Bill Foster is returning to Congress after two years on the sidelines.
With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Foster had 58 percent of the vote, well-ahead of longtime Republican Rep. Judy Biggert, who had 42 percent.
Biggert conceded the hotly contested 11th Congressional District race around 10 p.m., prompting Foster to praise her for her decades of service in public office.
“Despite everything that gets said on the campaign trail, Congresswoman Biggert has always demonstrated a commitment to public service, serving in a political party that cannot always have been comfortable for her,” Foster told his supporters. “Both Congresswoman Biggert and myself were forced into an increasingly ugly world of politics today — a world that we were both deeply uncomfortable with.
“Our democracy simply cannot survive when 30-second attack ads, backed by unlimited money from unknown sources, are the only currency of political debate.”
Biggert told her supporters, “We turned what was supposed to be a Democratic slam dunk [into a fight]. We made them work for it, and I don’t regret that at all.”
When Democrats drew new congressional boundaries, the 11th District was supposed to favor Foster. The district covers most of Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, Montgomery and Oswego.
Biggert, a Hinsdale Republican, and Foster both raised more than $2 million in the campaign. Both received endorsements from party heavyweights.
At a Holiday Inn in Bolingbrook, Foster fans and election results were flooding in at 8:30 p.m. Supporters watched as CNN called national results.
“Bill’s certainly most important, but we’re waiting for the results on Obama, too,” said Jerry Fialek, who sported a red, white and blue sweater matching his wife, Faith Ann. “I think they’re both important, because with a more receptive House of Representatives, the president can really get going to help move the country forward.”
Foster, 57, and Biggert, 74, had been running against each other for almost a year. Both mostly ignored primary opponents.
The candidates and their supporters flooded mailboxes and commercial breaks with campaign slogans and biting attacks. (One TV ad drew a crown on Foster; a print ad superimposed Biggert waving from the back of a luxury yacht.)
The race was initially seen as an opportunity for Democrats to win back the U.S. House, but projections late Tuesday night favored Republicans keeping control.
Biggert’s loss means the end of a three-decade political career. She was first elected to the Hinsdale Township High School Board in 1978; she served the 13th District since 1999 as a party moderate.
Foster’s victory makes this the third congressional race he has won in four years. He was the surprise winner in a 2008 special election after longtime U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert decided to retire. Foster won the March 2008 election, then he won again in November 2008.
He was one of several Democrats swept out of office in 2010, losing to Republican Randy Hultgren.
After leaving office, he worked at the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists and prepared to run again for Congress.
When the new congressional boundaries were revealed, Foster’s name quickly rose to the top of probable candidates. He cast the race as a voice for the middle class against a career politician.
“For this district, and for our country, the debate on Obamacare is over,” he told his supporters Tuesday night. “For this district and this country, the debate over whether our financial system should return to a world of unlimited leverage, and zero regulation, that debate is over too.”