Casten and Underwood defeat Republican incumbents
In two closely watched suburban Congressional districts, Democrats unseated Republicans in seats critical to their takeover of the House of Representatives. In the Illinois 6th District, covering the suburbs west of Chicago, veteran Republican Rep. Peter Roskam lost to Democratic businessman and political novice Sean Casten.
“You rub some dirt on it and you deal with it,” said Roskam to a crowd of teary-
eyed supporters, many of whom had been voting for the congressman since 2007.
Roskam thanked God, his family, and his staff before pledging a smooth transition for Casten.
“I told him [Casten] this is a great job and he’s going to love it,” Roskam said. “I
wish him the very best.” At Casten headquarters, at the International Brotherhood of Election Workers in Warrenville, the newly-elected congressman declared, “It wasn’t the party that won. It was our values.”
The primary election for the 6th District saw Casten defeat six other Democratic challengers, including five women.
Casten, 46, promised to reach across the aisle and work with both parties.
“In Congress, I’ll make decisions based on facts, not partisan politics,” Casten said in his final TV ad. “I’ll work with Republicans and Democrats to tackle our problems.”
Casten won 52.8 percent of the vote compared to Roskam’s 47.2 percent.
Dr. Rancy Ellis, a volunteer on Casten’s campaign, had harsh words for the defeated Roskam.
“I’m currently represented by a person who doesn’t believe in facts,” Ellis said. “Peter Roskam is a person who called climate change ‘junk science.’ He’s a person who lied about his record on his votes for coverage for people with pre-existing conditions…and he refuses to engage with his constituents by participating in open forums.”
The race between Roskam and Casten became a referendum on voters’ approval of President Donald Trump. The Casten campaign hit Roskam hard for voting with Trump’s agenda 94 percent of the time.
In the northwest suburbs, Lauren Underwood, a Democrat who had never held elected office pulled off a stunning upset, defeating four-term incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren in the 14th District, a district long considered to be a Republican stronghold.
Underwood, a 32-year-old African- American nurse, became the first woman and the first black person ever to represent the district, which is 86 percent white. Only four Democrats have held the seat in the last 100 years.
“You lifted me up, and this victory is your victory,” Underwood said. “It’s your example that I’ll follow in Congress. I am to be the very best congresswoman this area has ever seen, and honestly, it won’t be that difficult, because I’ll be the first congresswoman this area has ever seen.”
Underwood won 53 percent of the vote to Hultgren’s 47 percent.
Underwood campaigned heavily on health care, citing her pre-existing heart condition. Her opponent voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Nationwide, the “Trump” effect was huge, according to exit polls cited by CNN.
Nearly two in three voters said President Trump influenced their decisions on other races. More than 40 percent named health care as the most important issue, a key advantage for Democrats winning back the House. President Trump’s signature issue, immigration, scored second at 23 percent. And only one in five voters named the economy as their top concern.
With the end of the midterm elections, Chicagoans can now look forward to the 2019 mayoral race where 15 candidates are on the ballot.