Congressional race between Underwood and Oberweis still too close to call

With more ballots still needing to be counted, the 14th Congressional District showdown between Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville and Republican challenger Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove remained too close to call Wednesday.

That didn't stop Oberweis from proclaiming himself the winner in the afternoon, a move the Underwood campaign called premature.

After Election Day ballots in all of the district's 462 precincts were counted, Oberweis led Underwood 189,025 to 188,130, unofficial results showed - a difference of 895 votes. Statistically, they each have 50% of the vote.

But those tallies likely don't include all the votes cast in the race. Ballots postmarked by Tuesday that arrive at election authority offices by Nov. 17 will be counted, too, as will provisional ballots.

The 14th District includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Kendall counties. More than 157,000 of the 703,850 ballots that had been requested by mail had yet to be turned in as of Wednesday in those counties, according to state election officials. Not all were requested by 14th District voters, however.

Regardless, the race has not been called by The Associated Press.

Despite the uncertainty, Oberweis declared victory in a video released to social media.

"Today, after contacting every county clerk across the 14th District, I am pleased to say that, with only a handful of outstanding ballots, it appears that we have won a tough fought campaign," Oberweis said. "I look forward to representing all the people of the 14th District in Congress."

Underwood wasn't about to surrender.

Based on publicly available data, spokeswoman Andra Belknap said, Team Underwood remains confident the congresswoman will win reelection.

"Jim Oberweis doesn't get to call this election. The voters do," Belknap said. "There are thousands of votes that have yet to be counted. We appreciate every voter who made their voice heard, and our county clerks and election officials must count every ballot in as expeditious and transparent a manner as is possible."

As of Wednesday afternoon, Oberweis was leading in four of the district's seven counties - DeKalb, Kendall, Lake and McHenry. Underwood led in the other three.

Underwood has said she's "willing to wait patiently" until all the votes are recorded.

Underwood, a registered nurse and bureaucrat before joining Congress, was part of the blue wave that gave Democrats majority control of the House in 2018. She beat four-term Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren of Plano in 2018 to win her seat, capturing more than 52% of the vote.

Even without all the ballots counted, more people voted for her in this election than did in 2018, when she received 156,035 votes, records show.

During the latest race, Oberweis repeatedly tried to paint Underwood as a left-wing radical. He falsely alleged Underwood had called this year's looting and riots "beautiful protests," a claim disproved by the Daily Herald and the Better Government Association's PolitiFact Illinois fact-checking enterprise.

Underwood ran a more positive campaign. She focused on her accomplishments in office and her efforts to work across the aisle on legislation.

But Underwood took some shots at Oberweis, too, using forums and interviews to criticize his stances on abortion, birth control and other issues.

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Congressional candidate Jim Oberweis released a statement Wednesday in which he declared victory in the 14th District despite the race not yet being called. Facebook Video Screenshot
  Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood watches election results in her campaign office Tuesday. Her battle with Republican challenger Jim Oberweis was too close to call Wednesday. Paul Valade/
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