Walsh to supporters: 'I work for you'

Congressman-elect Joe Walsh told supporters Sunday he's going to Washington, D.C. to do what he was elected to do, and if he doesn't, the voters will respond in two years.

“I work for you, I listen to you, I answer to you, and the day or week or month I forget that, take that boot, and put it where it needs to be put,” said Walsh, a McHenry Republican who beat incumbent Democrat Melissa Bean by a mere 291 votes. “If we Republicans don't do what we need to do, what we were sent to do, we're gonna find ourselves kicked out of that city in two years. We get it.”

Walsh addressed some 300 or so backers at a formal victory celebration at the Lakemoor Banquets that followed weeks of counting ballots in the race for the 8th Congressional District, which runs north from the state line down to Schaumburg, and encompasses parts of Lake, Cook and McHenry counties.

Walsh returned this weekend from a week of orientation on Capitol Hill, but promised he would “come home all the time” to listen to residents.

So before he's sworn in officially, Walsh said he would host between 10 and 20 town hall meetings across the district to hear from voters from all backgrounds and political persuasions.

But it's clear Walsh will take his limited government, fiscally conservative approach to Washington. He said his top priorities are repealing the health care reform act, and providing tax cuts for small businesses.

“I was very clear about what I wanted to do. I want to stop the direction were going. Most of this district feels that way,” Walsh said in an interview. “I don't care if the margin was 200 or 200,000, I'm gonna go there to do what I think this district wants. And if in two years that's not what they want, they'll kick me out.”

Calling himself a “proud son” of the tea party movement, Walsh tipped his cap to his supporters, calling them “the largest grass-roots political army” in the state.

A year ago, Walsh acknowledged, all he had was one blue suit, a beat up pair of loafers, and little money to run a successful political campaign. But it was his help from supporters and ability to articulate their message, he said, that took him to victory.

“I did nothing that everybody in this room didn't do. We all got up off of our backsides and we said, respectfully, ‘I wanna take this thing that I call America, and I wanna take it back.'”

Grass-roots effort secured Walsh's victory

Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comCongressman elect Joe Walsh works his way through the large crowd during a victory celebration at Lakemoor Banquets. Walsh defeated incumbent congresswoman Melissa Bean by only 291 votes.