Bean concedes; Walsh wins 8th District
With Republican Joe Walsh's victory in the 8th Congressional District secured Tuesday, the Chicago area will be sending its own representative of the tea party movement to Washington.
With the last of absentee and provisional ballots tallied, Walsh holds a 291-vote lead over Democratic three-term incumbent Melissa Bean.
Bean's spokeswoman, Gabby Adler, said in an e-mail that the congresswoman called Walsh Tuesday night to congratulate him on his victory. Bean, who had held the seat that represents much of the Northwest suburbs since 2004, has scheduled a news conference for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Schaumburg.
Already in the Capitol for a weeklong orientation, Walsh finds himself joining one of the largest freshman classes in congressional history and a predominantly Republican one at that.
"I feel great," Walsh said minutes after the final total was announced. "We ended almost where we started, and I'm excited.
"I'm happy all the votes are in," he added. "I wish Melissa well and hope for a smooth transition."
The strongly Republican takeover of the House of Representatives could be the only thing obscuring how unusual Walsh's stunning defeat of three-term Democratic incumbent really was, said Raymond True, chairman of the Republican Assembly of Lake County.
"I think if it hadn't been such a widespread opportunity for grass-roots turnover, it would stand out as a more unique thing," True said. "In a sense, his victory is different than the others, but ideologically they're very much the same."
The total among all three counties in the 8th District has Walsh, of McHenry, ahead with 98,115 votes to 97,824 for Bean.
The Barrington Democrat picked up 473 additional votes in Lake County Tuesday to Walsh's 459, somewhat surprising given the lead Walsh held among Lake County voters on Election Day. In McHenry County, Walsh picked up 17 new votes to Bean's 12.
Absentee and provisional votes from Cook County Tuesday gave Bean 105 more votes to Walsh's 59. Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer added only six votes to his total from among all three counties Tuesday.
Walsh spoke last week to the Republican Assembly of Lake County, which he'd joined in August 2009, about why victory came as little surprise to him but a big surprise to most outside his campaign.
He pointed out that no big-name Republicans stepped forward to challenge Bean and that the national party gave him little money because conventional wisdom considered the race unwinnable.
But he went on the attack during the campaign, calling Bean an enabler of out-of-control government spending and a health care reform bill that the residents of the 8th District didn't want.
"Bean hit me over the head because I used words like 'revolution' and 'crusade,'" Walsh told the Republican assembly. "But it was, and it is. This was not just an election. We won it the old-fashioned way we worked hard."
True said he began talking about the tea party movement with Walsh when Walsh first joined his organization last year long before it had the momentum it gained in 2010.
He believes that the number of new faces in next year's House will allow Walsh greater influence than a typical freshman congressman.
"I think he's going to find a lot of resonance in terms of the things he supports," True said.