Walsh clings to slim lead in 8th District race

November 3, 2010 5:09:58 PM PDT
With 99-percent of the vote counted, Joe Walsh, a Republican tea party candidate, was still leading incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean Wednesday.

Walsh was clinging to a lead of a little more than 550 votes over Bean Wednesday afternoon.

The 8th District is a traditionally Republican district covering parts of Cook, McHenry and Lake counties.

Bean is a three-term incumbent who out-raised her opponent by more than four times the amount of money. The Bean camp seemed stunned by the tight results election night.

Walsh faced controversy and the National Republican Party wrote off the race, deciding instead to put money into other local Republican candidates. But Walsh has had the support of the local Tea Party, and he is also benefiting from the anti-Democrat and anti-incumbent feeling around the country.

Bean says she will not concede until all votes are counted including provisional and absentee ballots. She won in Cook County, but narrowly lost to Walsh in McHenry and Lake counties.

Working out of a Barrington office, Walsh spent much of the day on the phone with campaign staffers who were monitoring some more vote counting at the Cook County Board of Elections. While the race against Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean tightened up by another 200 votes, Republican Walsh is confident he is headed to Washington and Bean is headed home.

"We feel confident that we have won and pnce she realizes what is left out there, I expect she will realize it is too much of a hurdle to get over," said Walsh.

But Bean is not there yet. The three-term congresswoman made a brief appearance Tuesday night at her election party and released the following statement on Wednesday: "This election is still too close to call. There are still thousands of votes left to be counted and we are still working to understand the provisional and absentee ballot situation. We will continue to work to understand the will of the voters."

The 8th District was not one the Republican and Democratic parties considered to be tight. Bean was expected to win. As a result, Walsh says he did not get any national party support.

"I don't know that you can find a better example of a grass roots campaign anywhere in the country. That's all it was. We didn't have national support, we didn't have money, how did we win? People," said Walsh.

And how is Bean running behind? Daily Herald political reporter Kerry Lester says Walsh successfully painted Bean as Democrat who votes along party lines. Her vote for the health care bill was a factor.

"It was such a conservative district for a long time. He talks about fiscal conservatism and he talks about her votes with the Democratic Party, especially on health care which really did anger a lot of people out here," said Lester.

Joe Walsh says when he gets to Washington one of his first priorities is to repeal the health care bill. He says he has no plans of working with Democrats until the Republicans come together and tell the American people exactly what they stand for. Walsh says he believes in terms limits and says he will quit after three terms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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