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Democrats in Illinois mapped their way to big wins in Illinois. Kim Vatis reports.
Several state races for the House and Senate reached national status thanks to the talkers Illinois politics has become known for: scandal and controversy.
Jesse Jackson Jr., who hasn't been seen by constituents in months, won with 63 percent of the vote in the 2nd Congressional District over Brian Woodworth and Marcus Lewis. Indicted former state Rep. Derrick Smith, who was ousted from the House earlier this year after being charged with bribery, regained his seat in the 10th with a sweeping 63 percent of the vote.
Both men return to politics with dark clouds over their heads: Jackson with an ethics investigation and a federal probe and Smith with allegations he accepted a $7,000 bribe, a charge to which he has pleaded not guilty.
In another big race that stole national attention, veteran Tammy Duckworth beat outspoken incumbent Joe Walsh with 55 percent of the vote in the 8th Congressional District.
"You know there are two days that are important to me in November," Duckworth told an enthusiastic crowd at the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn. "There is this amazingly wonderful election day that we're enjoying tonight, and there's my alive day, the anniversary of my shoot down in Iraq."
Some voters said Walsh came off as too extreme after calling President Barack Obama a liar, saying radical Muslims intent on killing Americans had invaded the suburbs and claiming Duckworth talked too much about her military service to be considered a hero.
Democrat Bill Foster unseated Rep. Judy Biggert in the 11th with 58 percent of the vote in a hotly contested race filled with personal attacks and vicious ads. The campaign got extremely personal at times with the Biggert campaign accusing Foster of using his position as a congressman to escape financial doom.
"Despite everything that gets said in the campaign trail, Congresswoman Biggert has always demonstrated a real commitment to public service, serving in a political party that cannot always have been comfortable for her," Foster said Tuesday, drawing laughter.
In what was perhaps the biggest surprise, challenger Brad Schneider declared victory in a very close finish in the 10th against Rep. Bob Dold. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Schneider won by 130,676 votes to Dold's 128,129.
Schneider will be the first Democrat in that district in 33 years.