While the eyes of the world were centered on one particular race with a pronounced local connection Tuesday, a number of other Chicago-area races and proposed referenda took dramatic turns as election night returns rolled in.
Thanks at least in part to Democrat-helmed congressional redistricting, three suburban incumbent Republican representatives were defeated by Democrats by (mostly) large margins.
In the highly-publicized 8th district contest, Tea Party favorite U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh was defeated by challenger Tammy Duckworth by nearly 10 percentage points. In the 10th district, Brad Schneider narrowly -- by some 2,500 votes -- defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Dold. And in the highly negative 11th district, Democrat Bill Foster won his ticket back to Washington by handily defeating moderate incumbent U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert.
(Scroll down to view photos from election day in Chicago.)
And in northwestern Illinois, Democrat Cheri Bustos' victory over Bobby Schilling contributed to a major shift of influence in the state's congressional caucus. Previously, Republicans were 10 of the state's 18 representatives. After Tuesday's vote, that number has been nearly halved -- slashed to just six.
One other local congressional races was particularly notable, if not remotely competitive. Of course, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s campaign-less reelection to a ninth term in the state's 2nd district -- despite a cloud of mystery frequently surrounding his extended medical leave and treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder -- baffled some pundits, while others questioned whether voters considering the race had any genuine Jackson alternative to consider.
Regulation "hottie," Republican wunderkind -- and rumored gubernatorial hopeful -- U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock also won an easy reelection in the state's 18th congressional district.
Illinois Democrats also had a massively huge night when it came to Statehouse races -- what the Chicago Sun-Times' Dave McKinney rightfully dubbed "a bloodbath." By winning a net gain of seven seats, Democrats in the state House of Representatives, led by House Speaker Michael Madigan, reached a 71-47 (veto-proof) majority. In the state Senate, Democrats and Senate President John Cullerton will now enjoy a 40-19 (also veto-proof) majority.
As the Chicago Tribune notes, Democrat-controlled remapping of legislative districts in the state races also played a significant role in Democrats' statehouse gains.
"The map the Democrats drew performed as they designed," Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Republican Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, told the Tribune.
One of those Democratic wins in the statehouse was state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), who won reelection in the state's heavily Democratic 10th legislative district despite being arrested on a felony bribery charge and subsequently expelled from the statehouse in a historic vote by his peers earlier this year. Unless Smith is convicted, he cannot be re-expelled for the same reason as the previous expulsion, per state law.
Another was the election of the state's fourth openly LGBT state representative -- and the first to be elected outside of the immediate Chicago vicinity. Democrat Sam Yingling beat incumbent Republican Rep. Sandy Cole by winning 54 percent of the vote in the state's 62nd district in Lake County.
But it wasn't all frowns for Chicagoland Republicans. Dairy-centric businessman Jim Oberweis was elected to the state Senate in the 25th legislative district over Democrat Corinne Pierog after five previous failed campaigns for public office.
BOTTOM OF THE BALLOT
Aside from the congressional and statehouse races, voters in the Chicago also considered a number of other issues, though none as headline-grabbing as other states' marijuana and marriage equality measures, both of which rendered a number of historic results on Tuesday. Among the local issues considered was an obtusely-worded pension amendment which would have required a three-fifths supermajority in both chambers of the state's General Assembly to approve a pension increase for public employees. The proposed amendment failed.
Chicagoans on Tuesday also considered a "municipal aggregation" referendum allowing the city to seek competitors who can provide energy at a lower rate. With 98 percent of precincts in as of early Wednesday, 56 percent of votes were in favor of the referendum, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Over seventy-five percent of Chicago voters approved of a referendum that the state of Illinois should "provide funding for the normal cost of pensions for Chicago teachers" in a manner similar to how it pays "the normal cost" teacher pensions in the state's other school districts.
And in a non-binding resolution, an overwhelming 74.2 percent of Chicago voters voiced their approval of an anti-Citizens United amendment to the U.S. constitution.