Special election one week away

March 2, 2008 8:02:44 AM PST
Voters in the 14th Congressional District will head to the polls one week from Saturday for a special election.

The 14th is a big, sprawling Congressional district that runs almost to Iowa from the far western suburbs and it's always gone heavily Republican so G.O.P. businessman Jim Oberweis is a favorite, but Bill Foster is predicting a political upset based on changing demographics, an exciting Democratic presidential campaign, and a very unpopular Republican president.

Republican Jim Oberweis and Democrat Bill Foster are running against each other for the unexpired term of Dennis Hastert.

Foster, a businessman and scientist from Aurora, is making his first run for political office. His ads connect his competition with President Bush.

"The people that are here, really, the people that have been here, like me, 20 years, all their adult life or longer, feel the need for change. They've seen what's happened in six years of George Bush, they are anxious for change," said Foster.

Foster hopes an endorsement ad featuring Barack Obama will give him a boost in what's always been considered a safe Republican district.

"There is no one that I respect in politics more than Barack Obama," said Foster.

"I've had some differences with the White House on a number of issues but quite frankly, George Bush is not on the ballot, Barack Obama is not on the ballot, it's Oberweis vs. Foster," said Oberweis, who emphasizes his endorsements from John McCain and former House Speaker Denny Hastert, who resigned in December after 22 years in Congress. Oberweis said Foster's ad is wrong.

"Saying I support George Bush... and everything, you've followed me long enough to know that's complete nonsense," said Oberweis.

"Aligning yourself with George Bush on a range of policy issues is not at all a misrepresentation," said Foster.

According to Foster, it is a misrepresentation for Oberweis to paint him as a tax-and-spend liberal in an ad.

"No, not at all I'm consistently on the record in favor of middle class tax cuts," said Foster.

"He's talking about an increase for health care $440-billion?he believes bigger government is the answer to all of our problems. That's where we have a difference of opinion," said Oberweis.

The winner next Saturday goes to Washington almost immediately to be sworn in but will have to turn around and run again for a full term in November.

It's entirely possible for one candidate to win the special election and lose the seat in November. Oberweis has a slight advantage for the election on Saturday, but Foster has an edge in November. But first, it's a week from Saturday and to see the entire interview between the two candidates, it's going to be on ABC7 News this Sunday morning around 9:10.