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Foster returns to Congress with win over Biggert

Newly elected congressman Bill Foster waves supporters before giving an acceptance speech Bolingbrook Tuesday November 6 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For

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

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Kendall County: Bill Foster 5,476 votes (58%) to Judy Biggert 4,080 votes (42%).

Kane County: Bill Foster 3,817 votes (59%) to Judy Biggert 2,660 votes (41%).

Aurora: Bill Foster 17,364 votes (70%) to Judy Biggert 7,572 votes (30%).

Will County: Bill Foster 64,730 votes (61%) votes to Judy Biggert 41,289 votes (39%).

Cook County: Judy Biggert 1,304 votes (65%) to Bill Foster 679 votes (34%).

DuPage County: Bill Foster 45,949 votes (52%) to Judy Biggert 42,611 votes (48%). *

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:07AM



Naperville Democrat Bill Foster will be heading back to Congress.

Foster won with 58 percent of the vote. His Republican opponent, longtime U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, conceded at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Foster won in every county in the new 11th District, except suburban Cook County. His largest lead was in Aurora, where he captured 70 percent of the vote. In Will County, he grabbed 61 percent; in Kane County, 59 percent. Even in traditionally Republican Kendall County, Foster won easily with 58 percent of the vote.

Just after 10 p.m., Foster greeted supporters at the Holiday Inn in Bolingbrook.

“For this district, and for our country, the debate on Obamacare is over,” he told supporters. “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.”

Tuesday’s loss could mean the end to a three-decade political career for Biggert. She was first elected to the Hinsdale Township High School Board in 1978; she has served the 13th District since 1999 as a party moderate.

Biggert called her time in Congress the “great honor” of her life.

“I can never thank them (supporters) enough for their kindnesses toward me, their generosity with their ideas, their patience when we don’t see eye-to-eye, and their deep love of community and country,” she said Tuesday night at her election night gathering at the Hilton in Lisle.

Foster also complimented Biggert’s time in Congress.

“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,” he said. “Both Congresswoman Biggert and myself were forced into an increasingly ugly world of politics today, a world that we were both deeply uncomfortable with.”

When Democrats drew new congressional boundaries, the 11th District was supposed to favor Foster. It covers most of Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, Montgomery and Oswego. Biggert’s 13th District was split into six pieces and her Hinsdale house was left in a district that touched Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago. But more than half of the 11th District was in Biggert’s old district, giving her significant name recognition and setting the stage for a heavyweight battle.

Biggert and Foster both raised more than $2 million in the campaign.

Foster, 57, and Biggert, 74, ran against each other for almost a year, mostly ignoring primary opponents or potential challengers. 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.

“They thought that I would shy away from a tough race in a district tailor-made for my opponent. I didn’t,” Biggert said Tuesday night as she watched returns with her husband and children. “We turned what was supposed to be a Democrat slam-dunk into one of the most competitive races in the country.”

This is the third congressional race Foster has won in four years. He was the surprise winner in a March 2008 special election in the 14th District that was created when longtime Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert retired. Foster then won the general election for the seat in November 2008. But in 2010, he was one of several Democrats swept out of the office, losing a close race to Randy Hultgren.

After leaving office, the former Fermilab physicist worked for 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 in the 11th District, which includes parts of Aurora, Naperville, Plainfield and Joliet.

“One of the encouraging things is when I introduce myself to people, they’re very excited about having a scientist and businessman,” he said often during the campaign. “It feels very different to them than a career politician.”

The Biggert-Foster race was initially seen as an opportunity for Democrats to try to win back the U.S. House, but projections favored Republicans keeping control.

Foster said he is cautiously optimistic about working across the aisle after several years of legislative gridlock.

“I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that over the last four years the Republican strategy has been to do anything they can to undercut President Obama in an effort to deny him a second term,” said Foster.

“I think that effort has obviously failed and I think that, to most Americans, that has not really been very good for the United States. I think that they’re going to take a step back and say: OK, let’s try something else. Maybe that’s just my optimism.”



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