Voters in Illinois' new 11th Congressional District will choose between two veteran members of Congress this November as Bill Foster and Judy Biggert will square off in November, according to unofficial results Tuesday night.
Foster had both the experience as the former congressman in the 14th Congressional District and the biggest campaign war chest on the Democratic side of the ballot. As the representative in the 14th Congressional District, Foster represented portions of Aurora that are now in the 11th Congressional District, which may have helped Foster attract votes. But he believes it was his familiarity with all the people and issues in Joliet and the Naperville/Lisle area as well as Aurora that won the contest for him.
"Joliet and Aurora are cities with many things in common," Foster said. "So that part has always felt like a natural fit. The other part of the district is part of the high-tech corridor of Naperville and Lisle. And that's an area where I personally feel at home. We've been confident for awhile."
Unofficial vote totals show Foster receiving 11,990 votes compared to 5,115 for Juan Thomas and 3,351 for Jim Hickey with all precincts reporting. That works out to Foster receiving 59 percent of the votes cast. Foster's win officially pits him against Biggert in a contest that, arguably, Foster began months ago. His campaign has lobbed grenades at Biggert and her record since the onset of the primary battle. In debates with Thomas and Hickey, Foster frequently drew contrasts between himself and Biggert while ignoring Thomas and Hickey.
Biggert hasn't had the same public platform to go after Foster as her primary battle was waged mainly in courtrooms. Biggert's would-be opponent, Jack Cunningham, popped in and out of the race as a legal candidate through competing court rulings and decisions by the Illinois State Board of Elections. Cunningham's name still appeared on Republican ballots Tuesday night because it was too late to remove him by the time he was officially kicked out of the race by an appellate court last week for flawed nominating petitions. It's unclear what Cunningham's path is now, but he's vowed to either run as an Independent or challenge the appellate court's ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. That decision will be based on the number of invalid votes Cunningham received Tuesday night. Those numbers were not immediately available.
Diane Harris was also booted from the Republican ballot in a petition challenge, but stayed in the race as a write-in candidate. Vote totals were unavailable for her Tuesday night.
Assuming Biggert remains as Foster's main competition going forward, Foster said he believes voters will have a clear choice.
"The simplest way to look at it is the voters will be looking at the quality of government they can get from a lawyer and a career politician versus a scientist and a businessman," Foster said. "People have had time to examine the ideas of the Republican Party and see they are a combination of the same bad policies that got us into these problems in the first place and disturbing new policies like changes to Medicare. And they don't like them."