Democratic US Rep Underwood wins reelection in Chicago area
CHICAGO -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood has been reelected over Republican businessman and state lawmaker Jim Oberweis in a close Chicago-area race.
Underwood said Thursday that the matchup in GOP-leaning territory was a 'tough race under some very difficult circumstances.'
'We face urgent challenges as a community and a country. I remain focused on getting results: protecting our families, ensuring a robust economic recovery, and lowering the cost of health care,' she said in a statement. 'Whether you voted for me or not, I pledge to represent every member of this community."
But Oberweis, a state senator since 2013, said there were still votes to be counted and his campaign was 'committed to exploring all of the legal options at our disposal,' according to a statement Thursday. State election officials certify results next month.
Oberweis claimed victory last week, citing a slim initial lead. But Underwood overtook him as more absentee votes were counted. The election saw a surge in pandemic-driven mail voting.
Recounts in Illinois are rare, according to election officials. That's because they involve going to court, are expensive and can take years. A recount following a 2018 Macon County sheriff's race decided by one vote is still underway.
This year's race between Oberweis and Underwood was among the most expensive in Illinois. Underwood raised more than $7 million, while Oberweis raised about $2.5 million.
The largely white district, covering parts of seven counties, has historically been Republican but flipped two years ago. Underwood, who is Black, was the first woman and first minority to win the congressional seat once held by Republican former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. She ousted four-term Republican Randy Hultgren two years ago in a Democratic wave.
Underwood and Oberweis repeatedly clashed on gun control, health care and immigration in the congressional district that covers a mix of suburban and rural areas north and west of Chicago.
Underwood, a nurse, has called health care a human right and says she was inspired to run in 2018 when Hultgren supported legislation that would have made coverage of preexisting conditions more expensive.
Oberweis, a dairy magnate, has run unsuccessfully for higher public office, including for U.S. Senate and Illinois governor.
Oberweis, who has called the Affordable Care Act a 'disaster,' supports repealing and replacing it. He had backing from President Donald Trump and appeared with him at a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin, days before the election.
Underwood has blasted the Trump administration's immigration policies and was a backer of legislation offering a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants without legal permission to live in the U.S. and who were brought to the country as children.
Oberweis' statements on immigrants have drawn wide criticism. In a 2004 run for U.S. Senate, he ran a television ad in which he flew a helicopter over Soldier Field claiming so many 'illegal aliens are coming to take American workers' jobs' that they could fill the Chicago stadium each week.
He apologized for the ad a decade later, saying it was in 'poor taste,' but then he doubled down on it with an ad in March that included a clip of the original 2004 commercial.
'I was right on this issue then, and I'm right now,' he said.
Follow Sophia Tareen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiatareen