The Possible GOP Surprise in IL-08

Posted: Nov 04, 2010 4:32 PM
One of the biggest surprises on Election Night was the apparent narrow defeat of Rep. Melissa Bean in Illinois' 8th Congressional District.  Prior to Tuesday, Bean appeared significantly better positioned to survive a GOP wave than several of her Illinois Democratic colleagues.  Indeed, Debbie Halvorson (IL-11), Bill Foster (IL-14), and Phil Hare (IL-17) all lost their seats on Tuesday by healthy margins.  Bean, however, also seems to have been swept away by the red undertow.  If the precarious numbers hold up, Republican Joe Walsh will be the next Congressman from IL-08. 

That outcome would be a shock not only because of Bean's perceived popularity, but because she was defeated by a flawed candidate who ran a turbulent campaign with little money and virtually zero party support.  The Chicago Tribune dissects the improbable upset:

After he outran a crowded field in the Republican primary, Walsh, of McHenry, drew scant support from his party's establishment. While Bean, of Barrington, raised nearly $2 million and aired a television ad attacking Walsh as "dangerous" on social issues, Walsh raised less than $500,000 and depended on shoe-leather campaigning and a network of volunteers.

"If (GOP leaders) had given me money, this wouldn't have been close," he said.

Much of the publicity surrounding the race focused on concerns about Walsh's recent personal history. He lost a home to foreclosure in October 2009, his driver's license was suspended twice in 2008 after he failed to appear in court, and he was cited twice for not having auto insurance in June 2009, according to court records and state officials.

His campaign was torn by strife, and staffers quit and criticized him in public. A lawsuit filed by a former campaign organizer seeking $20,000 in back pay is pending in court.

And yet, in all likelihood, Congressman Joe Walsh will be sworn in next January.  Remarkable.