Democrat Bill Foster defeated wealthy Republican businessman Jim Oberweis yesterday in a special election to fill the Congressional seat of former Republican speaker Dennis Hastert who retired last year. Dennis Hastert's district was jerrymandered to be a safe Republican seat and in 2004 it went for Bush by 55%.
The national Republicans spent over $1 million trying to hold the seat and John McCain came to help raise money for Jim Oberweis. When the Democrats responded in kind with an equal amount of money and Barack Obama creating television commercials for Bill Foster the race became something of a preview of a possible November contest between McCain and Obama.
In typical Republican fashion the National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement last night denying the obvious significance of the race for Republican hopes in November:
"The one thing 2008 has shown is that one election in one state does not prove a trend. In fact, there has been no national trend this entire election season. The presidential election is evidence of that. The Democratic candidates are trading election victories from week to week and the nomination could hinge on a few news cycles. The one message coming out of 2008 so far is that what happens today is not a bellwether of what happens this fall."
Can you believe the chutzpah?! They are trying to claim that the close contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton somehow shows that race between the Democratic and Republican nominees must be equally close. As this special election, the turnout in the primaries and caucuses, the amount of money raised and the general level of enthusiasm all show, the Democrats are far ahead of the Republicans.