Brad Schneider's first day as the congressman-elect for Illinois' 10th District didn't have a particularly special start.
"I took out the garbage," the Deerfield Democrat said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Schneider narrowly defeated freshman Republican Robert Dold of Kenilworth to win the House seat. He'll be the first Democrat representing the district since Abner Mikva left office in 1979.
Dold led most of the night, but Schneider jumped ahead in Cook County and then in Lake County to win with roughly 50.5 percent of the vote, unofficial results showed.
Schneider wasn't surprised by the close finish. He was counting on early votes, which are tallied last in Cook and Lake counties, to give him the edge -- and that's exactly what happened.
"It was a nail-biter," he said. "And I knew it was going to be a nail-biter."
Schneider admitted pacing with his wife, Julie, as the votes came in.
"It was like watching the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series on your cellphone," he said.
Dold couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
He was gracious when he called Schneider to concede Tuesday night. Among other things, the political rivals talked about ensuring a smooth transition for the office, Schneider said.
Schneider was just as gracious Wednesday.
"I have a world of respect for Congressman Dold and the service he's given to our country," he said.
Of course, the race turned ugly early, with both candidates and their backers spending millions of dollars on negative TV and radio ads.
Schneider wants to put that enmity aside and once again pledged to work across the aisle with Republicans on legislation.
"We need to work together," he said. "We have some real daunting challenges, and if we don't start working on them, it will be harder to keep our promises, promises we've made to generations past and promises we owe to generations to come."
Schneider will take office Jan. 3. Between now and then, he'll continue reaching out to district residents to learn about their concerns.
Chief among his priorities, Schneider said, is improving the economy and the job market.
"I'm excited to get to work," he said. "This is a great honor, a great responsibility."