Huffpost Politics

Dem. Wins Election to Fill Hastert Seat

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The AP is reporting that the GOP has lost the House seat vacated by Dennis Hastert:

Democrat Bill Foster has snatched former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's congressional seat in a closely watched special election that gave the longtime Republican district to the Democrats.

Foster has won 52 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for Republican Jim Oberweis with 556 of 568 precincts reporting.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made a TV ad praising Foster; Oberweis had fundraising help from the apparent Republican nominee, John McCain, and Hastert's backing.

The winner Saturday will fill the remainder of Hastert's term, which ends in January. The 66-year-old Hastert, who lost his powerful post as speaker when Democrats took control of Congress, resigned late last year.

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The Washington Post reports that the upset is a major setback for the House GOP:

The defeat -- whether or not there are national implications -- is a major setback for the NRCC and House Republicans. The NRCC spent nearly $1.3 million defending the seat, a significant percentage of the $6.4 million the committee showed on hand at the end of January. That is a major investment of limited resources -- only to come up empty.

House Republicans, already dispirited by the loss of their majority in the 2006 election and more than two dozen retirements within their ranks since then, will likely take this defeat hard. Watch to see whether a rash of retirements breaks out over the coming weeks as vulnerable members take the Illinois special election as a sign of things to come in the fall.