<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - ]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/election-2012/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.comen-usThu, 26 May 2016 13:43:19 -0500Thu, 26 May 2016 13:43:19 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Inaugural Ball Benefits Staffer Who Died During Campaign]]> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 22:08:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Alex+Okrent.jpg

Though most of the inaugural events are now recent memories, there was at least one more important presidential ball on Tuesday, the proceeds of which benefit an Obama staffer who died during the campaign.

Alex Okrent, 29, died in July after collapsing at President Barack Obama's 2012 headquarters in Chicago. He worked in the campaign's paid media department, which handles advertising. He'd been with Obama since 2004, working as a field organizer in the campaign for the U.S. Senate and then for the 2008 presidential campaign.

Tickets to Tuesday night's Staff Ball at the Washington Convention Center were priced at $10 apiece. Obama for America staff, White House and Administration Staff, as well as Presidential Inaugural Committee staff were invited.

Obama told the Thousands that they represent, in his words, his "deepest hopes for America." He said he knows the nation's future is in good hands. The first lady, wearing a silver and black ensemble, echoed the president's campaign-year chant of "fired up, ready to go."
Singers Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga performed.  The pop star noted the event on Twitter, with a simple post that read, '#whitehausball."

The president and first lady started the tradition of the Staff Ball in 2009 as a way to express gratitude to their staff and celebrate with them.

<![CDATA[Board of Elections: Report of Breach Exaggerated]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 02:21:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/181*120/votehere.jpg

A Chicago Board of Election spokesman confirmed Tuesday that personal information for more than 1,000 people had been exposed online, but he denied a report from a security firm that the breach affected more than one million voters.

Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said the city's website -- ChicagoElections.com -- was immediately taken out of service after learning that voter information had been revealed.

Chicago-based Forensicon released a report earlier in the afternoon indicating a "massive security breach" encompassing more than 1.7 million registered voters.

"A treasure trove of sensitive voter information such as driver’s license numbers, cell phone numbers, emails, dates of birth and more was revealed," Forensicon’s President, Lee Neubecker, wrote in a post on the company website.

While Allen classified the firm's claim as a publicity stunt, he acknowledged that some voter information was moved to a temporary site after traffic to the site on Election Day crashed the service. That temporary site was not password-protected.

Allen said the most recent release of information was nothing like the breach in 2006, when information for hundreds of thousands of voters was made available.

The roughly 1,200 people affected by the most recent incident will be notified, Allen said.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[In 37 Chicago Precincts, Romney Received No Votes]]> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 22:42:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dejected-romney.jpg

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that in 59 Philadelphia precincts, Mitt Romney did not receive a single vote. So Ward Room decided to look at the results in the president’s hometown, and see if he won as many shutouts here. The answer: no. Romney was rejected by every voter in only 37 Chicago precincts, an embarrassing result, given that segregation and Machine politics are two of our city’s most notable qualities. Here’s the list, with the percentage of African-Americans in each ward, and the percentage of votes Obama received there overall.

    6th Ward (97.5 percent African-American; 99.3 percent Obama)
    23: 457-0
    26: 481-0
    33: 406-0

    7th Ward (92 percent African-American; 98.6 percent Obama)
    15: 526-0

    9th Ward (93 percent African-American; 99 percent Obama)
    5: 504-0
    36: 483-0
    49: 523-0

    15th Ward (24 percent African-American; 93.3 percent Obama)
    7: 477-0
    18: 482-0
    21: 397-0
    23: 503-0
    24: 460-0
    16th Ward (69 percent African-American; 98.3 percent Obama)
    3: 478-0
    15: 526-0
    26: 497-0

    17th Ward (82 percent African-American; 98.3 percent Obama)
    33: 440-0
    37: 450-0
    38: 576-0
    41: 573-0

    20th Ward (79 percent African-American; 98.5 percent Obama)
    6: 550-0
    11: 669-0
    14: 445-0

    21st Ward (98 percent African-American; 99.3 percent Obama)
    16: 549-0
    24: 536-0
    25: 504-0
    29: 550-0

    24th Ward (85 percent African-American; 99.1 percent Obama)
    4: 411-0
    8: 304-0
    33: 327-0
    35: 533-0

    27th Ward (55 percent African-American; 89.3 percent Obama)
    3: 381-0
    28th Ward (72 percent African-American; 95.3 percent Obama)
    15: 168-0
    41: 438-0

    29th Ward (68 percent African-American; 93.4 percent Obama)
    3: 549-0
    27: 496-0

    34th Ward (97 percent African-American; 99.3 percent Obama)
    28: 480-0
    52: 378-0



<![CDATA[Obama Chokes Up at Campaign HQ]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:41:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-obama-2012-hq-1.jpg

President Barack Obama was among those who got teary eyed Wednesday during a surprise visit to his Chicago-based 2012 campaign headquarters.

"What you guys have done means that the work that I'm doing is important, and I'm really proud of that. I'm really proud of you," he said before choking up, turning his head and wiping away a tear.

The president spoke for about five minutes into a microphone while hundreds of volunteers, many of whom climbed desks to get a better vantage point, listened intently.

When the president's emotions became visible, the room erupted into applause in a unified show of support.

The Commander in Chief told the campaign workers he had no doubt they would go on to do "just amazing things."

"You guys are so much better than I was in so many ways," he said after recalling his move to Chicago at age 25 with a goal of public service but with little direction. "You're smarter and you're better organized and you're more effective."

Obama said that even before election returns started rolling in on Tuesday evening, the pride he felt for his team made him feel as though the work he'd done in running for office had come full circle.

"Your journey is just beginning. You're just starting and whatever good we do in the next four years will pale in comparison to what you guys end up accomplishing for years and years to come," he told them.

Photo Credit: BarackObamadotcom, YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Gutierrez to Republicans: Take Note]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 15:56:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Luis-Gutierrez1.jpg

Latino voters played a big role in President Barack Obama's re-election, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez said other politicians should take note.

"If you treat the least among us, the most vulnerable among us, the immigrant community that's striving to make America their home, we will reject your campaign outright," he said Wednesday at a press conference with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Gutierrez also warned Democrats not to take their votes for granted and urged both parties to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

President Obama received 75 percent of the Latino vote, according to impreMedia/Latino Decisions exit polls, thus obtaining the highest number of Latino voters; President Clinton received about 72 percent in 1996.

ICIRR officials said the group's New Americans Democracy Project (NADP) registered a record number of 26,498 new immigrant voters, 58 percent in the City of Chicago and 42 percent in the suburbs.

The organization said it planned to contact 159,885 Latino, Asian and Middle Eastern voters during Early Voting and on Election Day through door knocks, phone calls and mailings. 

NBCLatino.com: We Voted. Now Let's Get to Work

<![CDATA[Madigan, Cullerton Have Veto-Proof Majorities in Statehouse]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:56:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/illinois-statehouse.jpg

He wasn't even on the ballot, but Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was among the big winners in Tuesday's election.

Madigan was the architect of the redistricting that changed the legislative boundaries to favor Democrats. 

At the Republican National Convention, Illinois Republicans sported "Fire Madigan" buttons and created a website where memorabillia with the "Fire Madigan" phrase could be purchased.

But in the end, Republicans lost five of six Congressional seats they wanted to hold. In the Illinois Statehouse, Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton were equally victorious.

Four Illinois House Republicans were booted, giving Democrats a net gain of seven seats and Madigan a 71-47 veto-proof majority. Cullerton gained five seats in the Senate, giving him a 40-19 veto proof majority in that body.

Photo Credit: panoramio.com / fish667]]>
<![CDATA[Axelrod: There Were a Lot of Tears Flowing]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:25:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-link-p2.jpg

Between the time Tuesday's presidential race was called and the time Barack Obama took the stage at Chicago's McCormick Place to accept his victory, the president made and received two very important phone calls.

"He spoke with President Clinton. He wanted to call President Clinton after Gov. [Mitt] Romney called because President Clinton was valiant on behalf of this campaign, and, as the president said, [was] our most valuable player," Obama's Chief Campaign Strategist David Axelrod said Wednesday.

"He really wanted to share the moment with him," Axelrod added.

For the most part, Axelrod said Election Night was mostly stress-free.

"The tense time is before the votes start getting counted," he recalled. "As soon as the votes start getting counted, you have models. You can see where the votes are coming in from. We knew very quickly that it was going well."

After a night's sleep at his Hyde Park-Kenwood home, an invigorated and newly re-elected President Obama stopped by his 2012 campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building to meet with the hundreds of volunteers who helped in the effort to secure another four years.

"It was a really emotional visit," Axelrod said. "There were a lot of tears flowing up there and a lot of joy."

Some of the staffers stood on desks to get a better glimpse of the president as he spoke to those who, as Axelrod said, "worked their hearts out."

"He talked about what public service means ... I think the most powerful thing he said was he talked about his own career as a young community organizer and he said to them what inspires him so much is, 'You're so much better than I was. You know so much more,' and he said, 'You give me hope.'"

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

For Axelrod, it was his last hurrah in politics.

Back in January, Axelrod announced that he would head to the University of Chicago to create a new Institute of Politics meant to rival the Harvard Kennedy School. The University of Chicago Institute of Politics opens officially in 2013, but began offering preliminary courses in Summer 2012.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Election Day 2012: By the Numbers]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 15:37:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vote-day-P5.jpg

The most important number for President Barack Obama on Election Day was 270, the number of electoral votes needed to clinch his re-election. But for the rest of us, the culmination of the marathon 2012 presidential race provided a host of other fascinating figures.

From the numbers of women elected to the U.S. Senate to the stack of Donald Trump's disgruntled tweets after the race was called for Obama, here is a numerical guide to Election Day 2012:

303 – The number of electoral votes Obama was projected to have won as of Wednesday morning, with Florida still too close to call, according to NBC News. He needed 270 to win reelection.

206 – The number of electoral votes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was projected to have secured, as per NBC News.

2,625,875 – The number of votes separating Obama and Romney in the popular vote count with 97 percent of results in, according to NBC News.

118 million – The number of Americans who voted in the presidential election, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. The number is sure to rise.

131 million – The number of people who cast ballots for president back in 2008, according to the AP.

71 – The percentage of Latinos who voted for Obama in this election, NBC News reported. Latinos represented 10 percent of the electorate.

27 – The percent of the Latino vote that Romney received, the lowest for any Republican in a generation, according to Slate.

89 – The percentage of all votes Romney won that came from whites, compared to 56 percent for Obama.

327,452 –- The peak number of tweets per minute after networks called the election for Obama at 11:19 p.m. ET. Twitter said the moment was its most-tweeted moment of Election 2012 by far.

396,372 – The number of new Facebook "likes" Obama received on Election Day.

20 — The number of women who will occupy the U.S. Senate come January, which will be a record high, NBC News reported.

53 —The number of U.S. Senate seats NBC News projected Democrats held. Another seat was held by Democratic-caucusing Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a seat in Maine was won by Independent Angus King, who Democrats were confident would vote with them although he refused to say with whom he would caucus.

12:50 – The time early Wednesday morning that Romney called Obama to congratulate him on his victory, according to the Boston Globe.

43 – The number of applause interruptions during Obama's victory speech, according to a transcript of the president's speech.

1,118 – The number of words in Romney's prepared victory speech, according to the AP.

455,000 (and counting) – The number of people who retweeted President Obama’s "four more years" message with a photo showing him hugging his wife, according to Twitter.

9 – The number of tweets sent by Donald Trump after Obama was declared winner -- that Trump didn't delete later -- starting with "Well, back to the drawing board!" and concluding with "House of Representatives shouldn’t give anything to Obama unless he terminates Obamacare." Trump deleted other tweets alleging Obama lost the popular vote and calling for "revolution," Mashable reported.

4 in 10 – The ratio of voters who said in exit polls they thought the economy is getting better, according to the AP.

10 – The number of defeated Democratic House incumbents, according to Politico.

12 – The number of defeated Republican House incumbents, per Politico.

2 – The number of states (Maine and Maryland) that approved gay marriage by popular vote, bringing the total number of states where same-sex marriage is legal to eight.

0 – The number of states where voters had previously voted in favor of allowing gay marriage.

1 – The number of members of Congress with backgrounds as reindeer ranchers and Santa Claus impersonators, according to the Detroit Free Press.

7.9 – The U.S. unemployment rate on Election Day, according to the Bureau of Labor Standards.

973,759 – The number of Hurricane Sandy victims still without power on Election Day, according to the Department of Energy.

15 – An estimate of the percentage decline in New York voter turnout compared from 2008 levels, according to the AP.

32 million – The number of early and mail-in ballots cast in 34 states and the District of Columbia before Election Day, according to the AP.

$3.46 – The national average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Election Day, according to the AP.

Alexandra Ward and Sam Schulz also contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why Obama Called Clinton on Election Night]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 12:20:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-clinton.jpg

In the time between Tuesday's presidential race being called and Barack Obama taking the stage at Chicago's McCormick Place, the president made and received two very important phone calls.

"He spoke with President Clinton. He wanted to call President Clinton after Gov. [Mitt] Romney called because President Clinton was valiant on behalf of this campaign, and, as the president said, [was] our most valuable player," Obama 2012 Chief Campaign Strategist David Axelrod said Wednesday in offering a glimpse into the president's election night.

"He really wanted to share the moment with him," Axelrod said.

For the most part, Axelrod said Election Night was mostly stress-free.

"The tense time if before the votes start getting counted," he recalled. "As soon as the votes start getting counted, you have models. You can see where the votes are coming in from. We knew very quickly that it was going well."

After a night's sleep at his Hyde Park-Kenwood home, an invigorated and newly re-elected President Obama stopped by his 2012 campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building to meet with the hundreds of volunteers who helped in the effort to secure another four years.

"It was a really emotional visit," Axelrod said. "There were a lot of tears flowing up there and a lot of joy."

Some of the staffers stood on desks to get a better glimpse of the president as he spoke to those who, as Axelrod said, "worked their hearts out."

"He talked about what public service means ... I think the most powerful thing he said was he talked about his own career as a young community organizer and he said to them what inspires him so much is, 'You're so much better than I was. You know so much more,' and he said, 'You give me hope.'"

For Axelrod, it was his last hurrah in politics.

Back in January, Axelrod announced that he would head to the University of Chicago to create a new Institute of Politics meant to rival the Harvard Kennedy School. The University of Chicago Institute of Politics opens officially in 2013, but began offering preliminary courses in Summer 2012.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Photo Most Retweeted Ever]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 01:45:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-tweet1.jpg

As it became clear that President Barack Obama was headed for another term in office, the most digitally savvy leader of the free world took to Twitter.

 "This happened because of you. Thank you," he tweeted, with a photo of him hugging first lady Michelle Obama, captioned "Four more years."

In the minutes that followed, the photo broke the record for most retweets, wrestling the crown from Justin Bieber.

Meanwhile, celebrities, journalists and politicos of all stripes weighed in on Obama's re-election, none with as much unhinged fervor as Donald Trump.

A selection of the night's highlights:

<![CDATA[Jesse Jackson Jr. Wins Reelection]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 06:52:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jacksonW1PHOTO.jpg

Jesse Jackson Jr. won re-election to Illinois' 2nd Congressional district by a landslide Tuesday night, beating his two opponents, Marcus Lewis and Brian Woodwoorth.

As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, and with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Jackson had captured 63 percent of the vote.

"My deep and sincere thanks to the people of the 2nd Congressional District, I am humbled and moved by the support shown today," Jackson said in a written statement. "Everyday, I think about your needs and concerns. Once the Doctors approve my return to work, I will continue to be the progressive fighter you have known for years. My family and I are grateful for your many heartfelt prayers and kind thoughts. I continue to feel better everyday and look forward to serving you."

Jackson is not celebrating his victory in a swanky Chicago hotel room, or back stage at McCormick place with President Barack Obama watching the returns come in on the national race. He's reportedly spending the night at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

For many Chicagoans, Jackson Jr's victory will evoke the memory of another absent Chicago politician, John Stroger, the former Cook County Board President who was able to engineer an election win despite remaining disappearing from public view for months following a severe stroke. His future may evoke another.   

Stroger won his primary battle without a problem, or an appearance. Months later used a bit of trickery to resign, then get his son Todd on the ticket before the general election, and the Chicago machine swept him into office. Stroger, the junior, won.

John Stroger never recovered from the stroke. He dipped in and out of the hospital over the next year and a half, suffering from seizures and other maladies that besiege 79-year-old men. Then he died, and his son trampled his legacy in his stead.

Jackson Jr. likewise suddenly disappeared from the public before the primary,  in early June when he left for a treatment center in Arizona. He later moved on to Mayo where he was diagnosed with bipolar depression and gastrointestinal issues.

Between June and November, nary a constituent saw their Congressman -- not working, not campaigning, not fundraising --  because he avoided press and voter alike.  Jackson, the junior, won. 

If federal authorities make good on any number of not-so-veiled threats against Jackson Jr., he could suffer a much worse fate Stroger.

In October, Federal prosecutors and FBI agents in Washington launched a criminal investigation of  Jackson, Jr. involving financial improprieties, including possible misuse of funds monitored by Congress to decorate his Washington D.C. Home.

At the same time, a House Ethics Committee continues to look into Jackson's supposed involvement in trying to be appointed to now-President Barack Obama's seat in the U.S. Senate. Jackson has admitted he wanted to be appointed to the Senate, but has repeatedly denied allegations he sent emissaries to offer campaign cash to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for the seat.

The emissary that he denies sending to negotiate with Blagojevich, Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested on 17 counts of fraud in June around the same time Jackson vanished from office.

Nayak testified in the Blagojevich trial that he was authorized by Jackson Jr. to offer the governor as much as $6 million for that Senate seat.

Jackson Jr. may be sitting in a defendant's seat before too long.

In that regard, Jackson Jr. evokes any number of Chicago politicians. 

Photo Credit: Katy Wolpoff]]>
<![CDATA[Romney: I Pray Obama Will Be Successful]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 08:38:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/RomneyConcedesLIM_5114461_722x406_6868547627.jpg Gov. Mitt Romney called the president to concede, and prayed for the well-being of the U.S. and President Barack Obama."I wish all of them well, particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters," he said. Romney said, "I ran for office because I'm concerned for America," and added, "Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign."]]> <![CDATA[Ousted State Rep. Heading Back to Springfield]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 03:22:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Derrick-Smith-representative.jpg

Derrick Smith, the state representative ousted from office earlier this year amid federal bribery charges, is heading back to office.

As of 2:20 a.m., and with 98 percent of precincts reporting, Smith had captured 63 percent of the vote. His challenger, Lance Tyson, had garnered 37 percent of the vote.

Smith has pleaded not guilty to the charges and last month expressed confidence that voters would send him back to Springfield.

Tyson, the former chief of staff for former County Board President Todd Stroger, was backed by Gov. Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White and aldermen from eight wards in the district.

Prosecutors allege Smith took a bribe to write what he thought was a letter of support for a day care center's state grant application.

His Illinois House colleagues in August voted 100-6 to expel him. It was the first time the House had expelled a member in more than 100 years. llinois law says he cannot be expelled a second time for the same reason.

<![CDATA[Obama Thanks Michelle]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 07:02:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-gallery-P1.jpg Obama's victory speech included a heartfelt thank you to First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Schneider Beats Incumbent Dold for 10th District]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 03:15:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Brad+Schneider.jpg

Democratic challenger Brad Schneider beat out incumbent Congressman Robert "Bob" Dold to win the 10th Congressional District of Illinois.

Schneider won by a margin of about 2,400 votes, according to unofficial numbers. This will be the Democrats' first stint in the 10th district since 1975.

Dold conceded shortly before 11 p.m. 

"We can all hold our heads up high after running a good campaign," he said.  "We ran a great and positive campaign. I hope you will help build a better future cause at the end of the day that's what it is all about."

During the campaign, Schneider faced stiff competition in the newly redrawn district from Dold, who led in the polls and with campaign spending.

On Election Day, Schneider received an endorsement from President Barack Obama, who is in Chicago for his own campaign party.

Schneider is the owner of Cadence Consulting Group, LLC and Lead Out Capital Partners, LLC. He has worked with several businesses, both large and small, throughout his career. Schneider's main concerns are rebuilding the middle class and strengthening the economy through small businesses.

Schneider is pro-choice and supports immigration reform and gay marriage. In an aside, Schneider told the Chicago Tribune the top priority on his bucket list is to teach high school history, creating his own course: "U.S. History Since Kennedy." 

<![CDATA[Obama Celebrates at Star Studded Party]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 01:50:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP474496152214.jpg

You know their names: 

Angela Basset, Wil.i.Am, Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige, Ashley Judd. 

These are the celebrities that decided to ring in election with newly re-elected president Barack Obama in Chicago. 

Of course, the biggest celebrity in the room was Obama himself, who turned in a commanding electoral college victory on Tuesday to win a second term in the White House. 

Obama has always done well with hip celebrities. Jay Z and Bruce Springsteen helped him make his closing argument during the final days of the campaign.  Katy Perry sang during a final campaign event in Wisconsin. Earlier on election day he shot hoops with Scottie Pippen, and others. 

But on election night, the stars shined a little brighter. 

His wife Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and his running mate Vice President Joe Biden, all celebrities in their own right,  were on stage as the president delivered his acceptance speech to an adoring crowd of Chicago voters. 


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Enyart Beats Plummer in Close Race for 12th]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 23:43:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/billenyart.jpg

Bill Enyart beat out Republican Jason Plummer and Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw Tuesday night to win Southern Illinois' 12th U.S. House District seat being vacated by Democrat Jerry Costello.

At 10:30 p.m., and with 91 percent of precincts reporting, Enyart had captured 50 percent of the vote.

During his campaign, Enyart (D-Belleville), a retired major general, tackled jobs, social security and Medicare as the main points of his campaign. As a military commander, Enyart was most recently in charge of dispatching more than 500 troops during a February 2011 in-state natural disaster response before retiring in June 2012.

He criticized Plummer for refusing to release his income tax returns as Plummer accused Enyart in debates for leaning on political connections. Both released ads attacks each other's views, and the candidates remained neck-and-neck for much of the race.

Enyart was backed by Alliance for Retired Americans and Rep. Jim Clyburn. Sen. Dick Durbin also publicly supported him. Plummer was endorsed by the Illinois State Rifle Association, the National Federation of Independent Business and 60 Plus, a non-partisan seniors group.

Costello (D-Belleville) is retiring from Congress after 24 years.

<![CDATA[Bill Foster Wins 11th District Congressional Race]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 03:40:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bill+Foster.jpg

Democrat Bill Foster overcame a nasty political season, filled with personal attacks and vicious ads Tuesday in a hotly-contested race against Judy Biggert for Illinois' 11th Congressional District.

As of midnight, and with 96 percent of precincts reporting, Foster had captured 58 percent of the vote.

"Wow, what a night," he told supporters at the Bolingbrook Holiday Inn.

Biggert and Foster used to served together in Congress, but were thrown into the race due to redistricting and the elimination of Biggert's 14th district.

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," he said, drawing laughter.

The political foes were the wealthiest members of the Illinois delegation when they served together in Congress, and much of this campaign was spent attacking each other for being greedy -- Foster because he allegedly profited from the Wall Street collapse and Biggert because she voted for congressional pay raises.

Foster said money had contaminated politics, and said he sensed both he and Biggert were "forced into an increasingly ugly world ... a world that we were both deeply uncomfortable with."

Foster, a physicist, businessman and Naperville resident, has been riding political waves since 2008, when he twice defeated unelectable Republican Jim Oberweis in elections for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s seat. Foster lost the seat to Randy Hultgren in the Republican wave of 2010, but the newly-drawn district provided his path back to Congress.

The 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties.

<![CDATA[Obama: "The Best Is Yet to Come"]]> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 14:19:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-lead-P1.jpg

President Barack Obama won a second term on Tuesday, emerging from a long, punishing campaign with a new mandate to lead a divided and anxious nation.

"Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up," Obama said in a victory speech in his hometown of Chicago. "We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts for the United States of America, the best is yet to come."

For full Decision 2012 coverage, visit NBCNews.com.

Obama said his re-election came with a sense of accomplishment and a new surge of hope.

"Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over," he said. "And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and about the future and life ahead."

But the cold reality is that when he arrives back in Washington, the president will face the same obstacles he did before the election. With Republicans maintaining control of the House of Representatives, the era of political gridlock will likely continue.

That challenge was articulated by one of his most outspoken opponents, Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of Senate Republicans.

"Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office," McConnell said. “To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way."

Obama's triumph unfolded incrementally Tuesday night, as he racked up a string of victories in crucial battlegrounds. One after another, states that had been deemed competitive swing states before Election Day fell into the president's hands.

Pennsylvania. Wisconsin. New Hampshire. Iowa. Virginia. With each Obama win, the path to victory for his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, got narrower.

Finally, just after 11 p.m. ET, NBC News projected Obama to win Ohio, his so-called "firewall" and the one state that has sided with the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1960. Obama's win there, thanks in large part to the state's support of his bailout of the auto industry, handed him the Electoral College swing votes he needed.

Romney conceded the race in a phone call to the president just before 1 a.m. ET. He then took the stage at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, telling supporters that he wished the president well.

"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said.

Obama's battleground victories were so authoritative that Florida, which was considered the biggest  prize, wasn't even a factor.

Florida was the only state that remained too close to call as of 6:00 a.m. ET. Its results won't be known until after the start of business Wednesday. 

So many people turned out to vote Tuesday that Ohio, Florida and Virginia kept polls open long after official closing times to accommodate the people waiting in long lines that snaked from the doors of polling places.

Exit polls indicated that Obama was favored among women, young adults, singles and Latinos — the last group by wider margins than in 2008.

"Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests," Obama wrote in an email to supporters.

The first person Obama called after getting the concession call from Romney was former President Bill Clinton, a campaign official told NBC News.

The former president was one of Obama’s top surrogates, and onlookers credited his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte with Obama's "Clinton bump" in the polls.

Obama, Romney and their proxies spent nearly $2 billion, a record amount for a presidential campaign.

In his concession speech, Romney said he had no regrets and hoped that the country would move past its partisan differences to solve the nation's problems.

"I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction," he said. "But the nation chose another leader."

Less than an hour later, at about 1:45 a.m. ET, Obama appeared before a roaring crowd at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. His wife, Michelle, and their two daughters accompanied him on stage while Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" blasted. Then they left him to deliver his victory speech.

Obama congratulated Romney "on a hard-fought campaign."

“We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country, we care so strongly about its future," he said.

The president went on to say that the rancor and rift that characterized the campaign was understandable, given the nation's challenges.

"That won't change after tonight. And it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today."

Obama, 51, the country’s first black president, won election in 2008 on a promise of hope and change, but he triumphed this time with a starkly different message: asking voters to stick with him as he continues trying to fix the economy and improve America’s standing in the world.

He defeated Romney, 65, a wealthy venture capitalist who’d been running for president for the better part of a decade. A win for Romney would have been vindication, of sorts, for his family; his father, George, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968.

The 2012 race highlighted two contrasting visions of the country. Where Romney emphasized the need to lower taxes, relax federal regulations and cut government spending, Obama promised to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and deploy government’s help in pulling the country out of the economic doldrums.

Despite his image as stiff and disinterested in the plight of the middle class, Romney managed to make the race close by appealing to many voters’ disappointment in Obama and widespread anxiety about the economy. Romney promised to bring a businessman’s sensibility to the job, a point he drove home in the first presidential debate, which he dominated. That performance sparked a surge in the polls that made the race tight right up until Election Day.

But Romney, in the end, was not able to fully convince an edgy public that he could do a better job than Obama. Nor was Romney able to overcome Obama’s image as a more likable guy.

Now Romney may well have run his last race for public office.

Obama will begin his second term no longer a symbol of political catharsis but as a flawed but adaptive leader who took a lot of lumps and learned from them.

The president's re-election means there will likely be no overturning of his signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 health care reform law. Obama has also promised to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year.

Obama must also make good on his campaign promises to finally correct America’s economic path by finding ways to add a million more manufacturing jobs, boost domestic energy production, reduce the county’s carbon footprint, shore up Medicare, cut students' college loan costs and slash the national deficit by $4 trillion.

When he returns to the White House, he won’t have much time to savor his victory, because he’ll face the threat of a year-end "fiscal cliff," when a series of tax cuts are set to expire and massive government spending cuts go into effect.

As he noted in his email to supporters Tuesday night: "There's a lot more work to do."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Campaign's Top Moments]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 19:31:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama+romney2.jpg

After many months, countless attack ads and nearly $2 billion raised and spent, the presidential campaign is finally coming to a close. To help put the long slog of a race into perspective, we’ve dipped into the archives and come up with a list of some of the campaign’s most pivotal, and memorable moments.

Rick Perry’s debate brain freeze

There was a time, more than a year ago, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry was considered the front runner among a strong field of Republican primary candidates that included Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, conservative talk radio host Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. But Perry had a crushing weakness: muddy debate performances. His string of live-action flubs culminated on Nov. 9, 2011, when he tried to name the three federal agencies he’d eliminate if he became president.

"It's three agencies of government when I get there that are gone," Perry said. "Commerce, Education, and the…what's the third one there? Let's see." Nearly a minute passed, as some of the other candidates tried to help him out with suggestions. But it did no good. “The third agency of government I would do away with - the education, the uh, the commerce and let’s see. I can’t the third one. I can’t. Sorry. Oops.” Later, he remembered: the Department of Energy. But it was too late. Perry was dogged by speculation that he would drop out. He vowed to fight on, but by January he was gone.

Cain withdraws from race

Even the most outsider candidates seem to have their surges of popularity, and for a brief time Herman Cain had his with a "9-9-9" tax plan. And then he fell just as quickly, as a series of women came forward with allegations that he had sexually harassed them while he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Another woman claimed she had carried on a 13-year extramarital affair with him. Cain denied it all, but the charges overwhelmed his campaign, and on December 9, 2011, he dropped out, citing the “continued hurt on me and my family.”

Santorum shocks Romney

Perhaps Tom Brokaw said it best when he summed up Rick Santorum’s dogged candidacy by comparing the conservative former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania to a Hollywood action hero. "He's like a character in a Bruce Willis movie," Brokaw quipped during the head of the primary season. "He just knows how to stay alive.”

Santorum’s insurgency began with a surprising showing in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. The Iowa GOP originally announced Mitt Romney the winner by eight votes, but reversed itself less than two weeks later, when a closer count revealed that Santorum had won by 34 votes. The difference was more than just a few votes; it established Santorum as a force to be reckoned with, and he rode that momentum for months, picking up primary victories in February and March. Romney finally got the better of Santorum in April, reeling off three victories that resulted in Santorum withdrawing on April 4.

Biden forces Obama’s hand on same-sex marriage

Vice President Joe Biden is known for his spontaneity, which can catch even his closest allies off guard. At no time was was that more evident than on May 6, when Biden went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and declared that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. The statement caught President Barack Obama by surprise, and effectively forced his hand on the issue. Obama had once stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, but had more recently conceded that his stance was “evolving,” and apparently intended to declare his support some time just before the Democratic National Convention in August. Instead, on May 9, Obama gave an interview the ABC News in which he endorsed same-sex marriage. "At a certain point, I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." Biden reportedly apologized to Obama for upsetting the president’s plans.

Romney clinches nomination

The race between President Obama and Mitt Romney officially began on May 29, when Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination with a landslide victory in Texas. The achievement was largely symbolic, because he was already considered the front-runner, and most of his challengers, including Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, had dropped out. Romney, whose father, George, a Michigan governor, failed in his run for the Republican nomination in 1968, vindicated that loss and became the first Mormon to become a major-party nominee. "I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy,” Romney announced. “And I am humbled to have won enough delegates."

Romney picks Paul Ryan

One of the biggest problems Romney faced as the GOP’s nominee was ambivalence from the party’s conservative wing. His solution was to pick Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Ryan, the 42-year-old chairman of the House Budget Committee, was the author of a budget proposal that called for steep tax reductions, aggressive spending cuts, and a reorganization of the way Medicare and Medicaid operate. In short, Ryan was the answer to conservatives’ prayers: he was young, aggressive, well-spoken and, as a photo spread in Time illustrated, was in really good shape.

The choice highlighted the difference between the two campaigns on entitlements, taxes, the role of government in American life, and social issues, such as abortion. “There are a lot of people in the other party who might disagree with Paul Ryan,” Romney said at a rally in which he introduced Ryan. “I don't know of anyone who doesn't respect his character and judgment.” Ryan promised that he and Romney “won’t duck the tough issues. We will lead.”

Eastwood’s empty chair

On paper, Romney was the headliner of the Republican National Convention. But he was nearly outshone by an unlikely political speech-maker: Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood, who was introduced as a surprise guest just before Romney was scheduled to take the stage in Tampa on Aug. 30 and formally accept the GOP nomination. Working without a script or teleprompter, Eastwood, 82, delivered a long, rambling monologue that mocked Obama and Biden. He arranged for an empty chair to be brought on stage with him, and conducted an imaginary conversation with the president. The crowd of delegates roared, but the speech delayed Romney’s by 10 minutes and dominated discussion of the night’s events.

The Big Dog returns

Obama, too, was upstaged at his party’s convention. But unlike Romney’s choice of Eastwood, Obama pretty much knew what he was getting when he asked Clinton to formally nominate him at the Democratic National Convention’s second night in Charlotte on Sept. 5. The president and Clinton had never been close – their rivalry dated back to Hilary Clinton’s primary battle against Obama in 2008 – but they agreed to bury the hatchet in order to keep the White House in Democratic hands. Clinton, out of office for 12 years, clearly relished the opportunity to invoke the fiscal prosperity of the late 1990s that marked his second term as president, delivering a sparkling speech that argued that Obama deserved another four years to fix the economy. Clinton continued stumping for Obama through Election Day.

Romney’s “47 percent” remarks

America got a rare glimpse of an unexpurgated Mitt Romney in September, when Mother Jones released a secretly recorded video of the former governor speaking to wealthy donors in Florida. Taken by a small camera or cell phone resting on a table, the video captured Romney saying how he wasn’t trying to appeal to the “47 percent of the people” who will vote for Mr. Obama “no matter what.” These voters, he said, were “dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.” The video threatened to upend his campaign, and Romney, who had battled a prevailing image of him as out of touch with middle-class voters, immediately sought to contain the damage. He conceded the remarks were “not elegantly stated” and insisted, “this is a campaign about the 100 percent.” But the quote dogged him for the rest of the race.

Romney dominates first debate

It was the wrong time for the president to take a nap. Just when Obama seemed to be pulling away in the polls, Romney routed him in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3. The Republican aggressively questioned the president’s ability to rescue the economy, but Obama often seemed uninterested in fighting back. Split-screen views of the debate showed Romney castigating Obama while Obama looked down as his lectern, grimly taking notes.

As front runner, Obama appeared to have adopted a strategy of caution, which rapidly backfired. Romney immediately gained ground in the polls, and pulled within striking distance of the president. Later, after he’d had a chance to review a tape of the debate, Obama conceded that he’d screwed up. In an appearance at a charity event with Romney, Obama joked about “the nice, long nap I had in the first debate.”

An unlikely hero to emerge from the first debate was Big Bird, after Romney put the character’s employer, PBS, on his hit list of government subsidies he’d cut. Immediately, supporters of Big Bird took to social media to defend the yellow-feathered victim. That weekend, Big Bird showed up on Saturday Night Live to defend himself.

Obama went on to rally in the second presidential debate, attacking Romney as a wealthy, far-right candidate who was masking himself as a moderate. At one point, the two men got in each other’s faces, appearing as if they might come into contact.

Their third and final debate, limited to foreign policy issues, was more subdued, and this time it was Romney who took a more cautious approach, while the president used sarcasm to mock Romney’s lack of experience in international affairs.

Sandy forces a pause in the race

Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Northeast a week before Election Day, forcing the candidates to briefly suspend their campaigns. As the devastation deepened, both men held off returning to the trail until after the worst was over. Whether the storm affects the race's result is a matter of debate, as questions remain about how millions of people still without power or access to transportation will get to the polls.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Duckworth Unseats Walsh in 8th Congressional]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 03:42:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/walsh-duckworth.jpg

Rep. Joe Walsh will be a one-term congressman.

Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth on Tuesday unseated Walsh in race for Illinois' 8th Congressional District, one that was redrawn to be Democratically friendly.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Duckworth had captured 55 percent of the vote.

"You know there are two days that are important to me in November. 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," she told an enthusiastic crowd at the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn.

Her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down on Nov. 12, 2004. She lost both of her legs as a result of the accident.

Walsh, who himself unseated a three-term incumbent Melissa Bean in 2010 by roughly 300 votes, legislated and campaigned on a platform of job growth and economic recovery, long maintaining that the federal government has hampered that growth with too many regulations.

But many voters apparently found Walsh too extreme. He called President Barack Obama a liar, said radical Muslims intent on killing Americans had invaded the suburbs and claimed Duckworth talked too much about her military service to be considered a hero.

He was far more conciliatory in his remarks to supporters at the Medinah Shriner Center in Addison.

"My congressional office will do what ever we can to help with the transition when she assumes responsibilities as the new congresswoman for the 8th Congressional District," he said.

The campaign was one of the most-watched races in the country. Duckworth unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006 and was later appointed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Her name was also mentioned as a possible replacement for Barack Obama when he left the U.S. Senate for the presidency. Obama later named her an assistant secretary for the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

<![CDATA[Elizabeth Warren Wins Mass. Senate Race]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 08:51:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ELizabeth+Warren+victory.jpg

Elizabeth Warren took back a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts for Democrats after beating Republican Sen. Scott Brown, helping her party hang onto its majority in the chamber, according to NBC News projections.

With 95 percent of the vote in, the Harvard law professor and consumer advocate had 54 percent of the vote compared to 46 percent for Brown, NBC News reported.

"For every family that has been chipped and squeezed and hammered, we're going to fight for you," Warren said in a victory speech Tuesday night. "We're going to fight for a level playing field and we're going to put people back to work."

Warren's projected victory came after a tough, contentious battle against the incumbent, who stunned the political establishment in 2010 when he won the seat held for 47 years by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. She will become the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the Senate.

Warren, 63, had the backing of the president, who tapped her to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and gave her a prime speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention this fall. She cast herself as a champion of consumers, the middle class and women, who overwhelmingly supported her bid, according to The New York Times.

Brown, 53, portrayed himself as a moderate everyman in a state dominated by Democrats.

"You've got no business in politics unless you respect the judgment of people," Brown said in a concession speech Tuesday. "And if you run for office, you've got to be able to take it either way, winning or losing, and I accept the decision of voters."

The race drew national attention for the amount of money poured into it — at least $68 million, according to The Associated Press — and for several flaps that came out of the months-long contest.

It was Warren's speech about the role of government in private sector success that morphed into the "you didn't build that" line Republicans used against the president.

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own, nobody," Warren said last August, according to the Los Angeles Times. "You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for, you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate, you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for."

President Obama riffed on that speech with his own, which became fodder for the Mitt Romney campaign and led to accusations that he was anti-business.

Warren also came under scrutiny after admitting that she had identified herself as a minority, claiming Native American ancestry in a law faculty directory. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Plays Basketball on Election Day]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 22:15:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-giannoulias-bball.jpg

President Barack Obama took his game face on and off the court Tuesday afternoon in Chicago.

After morning TV interviews and an unscheduled visit to a South Side campaign location and before his big watch party at McCormick Place, Obama found time for his Election Day round of basketball.

It's become tradition in the president's campaign, and this one ups the ante thanks to some star talent.

Obama teamed up with former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen and former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias against Reggie Love and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Former Bull Randy Brown also was involved, as well as Mike Ramos and Marty Nesbitt.  

"We did this four years ago," Duncan said. "It was a good luck charm then, hopefully it will be one tonight."

"No talk about tonight, we were just talking about the game, and he was talking about how old Scottie and I are and the good ole days," Brown said. "At the end of the day the score doesn't matter, just some friends having fun."

"He was In a good mood," Giannoulias said after the match. "He was with friends, he was himself, and he was competing. Still he was glad to get the victory."

Obama's team won 102-80.

Giannoulias and Obama have been playing basketball since before either of them was elected to public office. “We played in Iowa, we found a cold gym in Des Moines, Iowa," Giannoulias said of the first Election Day game. "We had nine guys. The tenth guy was actually the janitor who played in his blue jeans."

“Now here we are today with NBA stars and referees and it’s become an international event. So, it’s cool but we think about how the world has changed.”

<![CDATA[Posting Ballot Pics Online a Class 4 Felony]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 16:55:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/voter-receipt.jpg

Social media has no doubt had an impact in the American election cycle. And while messages and memes aren't unusual, there's at least one post Illinois voters should refrain from making: a photo of your ballot.

It's technically a Class 4 felony.

According to 29-9 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes' Election Code, the practice falls under a prohibition of "unlawful observation of voting."

Except as permitted by this Code, any person who knowingly marks his ballot or casts his vote on a voting machine or voting device so that it can be observed by another person, and any person who knowingly observes another person lawfully marking a ballot or lawfully casting his vote on a voting machine or voting device, shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.”

Other states that ban photography or videography in polling places include Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and West Virginia, the social media news website Mashable noted.

It's likely better to just post a photo of your "I Voted" sticker or receipt.  

Photo Credit: BJ Lutz]]>
<![CDATA[Road to the White House ]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 12:47:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-wed-add-P1.jpg It's go time and with the 2012 presidential campaigns comes to a close, president Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney rally for last minute support for their bid at the White House.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Election Chairman Apologizes for 'Bumpy Start']]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 00:22:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/voting4.jpg

Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal on Tuesday afternoon apologized for what he called a "bumpy start" to a busy Election Day.

Neal said the redistributing process contributed to voter confusion, but other problems made it difficult for as many as 500 people to cast their ballots.

Confusion over where to vote may have also helped crash the ChicagoElections.com website. Eventually, traffic was redirected to the state of Illinois elections site.

Additionally, at least three judges were dismissed in the morning hours for being disruptive. Some, Neal said, were demanding that voters produce IDs, something that is not required under state law.

Other problems included a lack of ballots and provisional ballots at some of the 2034 city precincts.

Still, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, Jim Allen, said that after the absentee votes are folded in, Chicago voter turnout was expected to be roughly the same as it was in 2008, at 73.8 percent.

Despite the problems in the city, Cook County Clerk David Orr reported smooth voting at polling places outside Chicago. The county went through its redistricting process before the primary elections.

Redistricting caused almost immediate confusion in some areas of Chicago after polls opened at 6 a.m. 

A redrawn city ward map this year meant new polling places for hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, and though new voting cards were sent out in August with up-to-date locations, Election Day changes remained unclear for some.

Several reports to NBC Chicago stated voters showed up at wrong locations. Several reports came from the South Loop neighborhood, and one woman said in an email that she tried voting at Second Unitarian Church in Lakeview but her name wasn't on the list. She said several others were on a supplemental list but no ballots were available for them.

At St. Chrysostom's Church on the 1400 block of North Dearborn, where six precincts were combined into one location, election Judge Mark Ladd described this morning as "a little bit of chaos."

It took voter Sue Sandberg 35 minutes to get in and out.

"I think a lot of the voters are confused because I didn't know 'til I read my voter card that my ward changed," she said.

Nadine Merker agreed.

"It seemed like there was a lot of confusion which precinct was located where and which actual voting booth was assigned to your precinct," Merker said.

Neal said despite all the changes only four precincts of roughly 2,000 opened late this Election Day because of custodians and maintenance people forgetting to open up early.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Mural Ordered Covered at Pa. Polls]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 16:08:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/MURAL-COVERED2.gif

A Philadelphia court judge ordered poll workers to cover up a mural of President Barack Obama that was inside a polling place at a local school.

The uproar started when upset voters began circulating pictures via social media after voting at Ben Franklin Elementary School Tuesday morning.

The Republican Party quickly took action, filing a lawsuit that claimed illegal electioneering. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason issued this statement on PAGOP.ORG.

“Whether it’s blocking Republican Election Day workers form doing their job or violating Pennsylvania law by electioneering in the polling place, it is clear the Obama campaign has taken their campaign in the gutter to manipulate this election however they can.  Based on the Obama campaign’s behavior today, it certainly raises the question: what are Democrats doing in the polls that they are working so hard to shield folks from monitoring this election?”

Judge Milton Younge, Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas ordered that the mural be covered for the rest of election day with "blank paper or similar material" and "in its entirety," according to NBC News' Pete Williams.

As of 2 p.m., the mural was not entirely covered. NBC10 snapped a picture showing three sheets of paper covering the president's face.

In other Pennsylvania election news, a Department of State official told The Associated Press that a voting machine was recalibrated and put back into service after a Perry County voter reported that it had switched his switched his vote from Obama to Mitt Romney.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Campaign: Feeling Good in Final Hours]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 18:00:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/webstephaniecutter_9925031_722x406_6836291882.jpg Stephanie Cutter, the Deputy Campaign Manager for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, says Election Day has gone smoothly and the ground game the campaign has built is paying off.]]> <![CDATA[Election 2012: A Look Back]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 06:49:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vote-day-P6.jpg It's go time and with the 2012 presidential campaigns coming to a close, president Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney rally for last minute support for their bid at the White House.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[President in Chicago for Election Day]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 02:26:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama-iowa.jpg

Following the final campaign rally of his final race, President Barack Obama arrived back in Chicago early Tuesday in advance of his Election Night event.

He's spending the night in his Hyde Park home.

The president closed his 2012 campaign with a nighttime rally Monday in Iowa, where his 2008 caucus victory jumpstarted his road to the White House. In an event steeped in nostalgia, the president urged voters in the swing state to help him finish what they started here four years ago.

"I've come back to Iowa one more time to ask for your vote," Obama told 20,000 supporters at the outdoor rally. "This is where our movement for change began."

Obama was joined at the rally by wife, Michelle, rocker Bruce Springsteen and a cadre of longtime advisers and friends who have been with him for the final stretch of his final campaign. The president spoke in front of the building that housed his 2008 campaign's state headquarters, one of the first offices his team opened.

Tuesday's election night rally is scheduled for McCormick Place -- a much different scene than the 2008 celebration in Grant Park that attracted 240,000 people. The private rally is limited to campaign workers who volunteered in recent weeks.

Satellite trucks and international media have already traveled to the city to prepare for the event.

The decision to house the event in the country's largest convention center was made with security concerns in mind. An immigration rights group is planning a demonstration outside the convention center, the Chicago Tribune reports.

CNN is erecting an outdoor jumbotron at the Thompson Center (Randolph and Clark) for people seeking the communal experience.

Obama and Mitt Romney are campaigning heavily in battleground states the day before the election, with 14 events scheduled across eight states such as Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania.

A final national NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll showed Obama getting the support of 48 percent of likely voters, with Romney receiving 47 percent. A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll had Obama at 49 and Romney at 48. A Pew Research Center poll released Sunday showed Obama with a three-point edge over Romney, 48 percent to 45 percent among likely voters.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that victory looks likely in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, which will pave the way for an Obama victory.

"I believe we're going to close the deal in each of those states, we have a strong position. That's why Romney's reaching out to brand new states in the closing few days, trying to find a path for victory," Durbin said.

Romney plans to spend election night in Boston.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jay-Z, Springsteen Hit the Trail With Obama]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 19:42:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama+springsteen+jay+z.jpg

Someone has to introduce the president.

On Monday, the final day of the presidential campaign, President Barack Obama, however, didn't bring along an opening act. He brought along two main acts.

Bruce Springsteen. Jay-Z. Theirs wasn't an introduction, it was pop culture moment.

The Boss was spending the entire day with Obama, traveling on Air Force One from Madison, Wis., to Columbus, Ohio, and then to Des Moines, Iowa, where Obama planned a coda for his campaign, a finale where his run for the presidency began five years ago.

Jay-Z boomed his way into Columbus's Nationwide Arena, performing a rendition of his hit "99 Problems" with a political twist for a crowd estimated by fire officials at more than 15,000 people. He changed a key R-rated word to make his own political endorsement. "I got 99 problems but Mitt ain't one," he sang.

"They tell the story of what our country is," Obama said of the two performers, "but also of what it should be and what it can be."

Springsteen added a whole new sense of vigor, even giddiness, to the Obama entourage, with many of the president's aides and advisers clearly star-struck by the rocker's presence.

Springsteen, in jeans, black boots, a work shirt, vest and leather jacket, was not wearing the typical Air Force One attire. But the Obama camp has left formality aside; many aides are growing beards through Election Day and ties have been left behind in favor of sweaters for the chilly outdoor events during the last hours of the campaign.

Asked if there was any downside to using celebrity glitz instead of substance to drive voters to the polls in the final days, Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki laughed. "I think Bruce Springsteen might be offended by you calling him glitzy," she said.

"Bruce Springsteen, and some other celebrities who have been helping us, reach a broad audience that sometimes tune out what's being said by politicians," she said.

As Psaki spoke to reporters at the back of the plane, Obama was up front and on the phone with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussing the recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Christie, who says he has attended more than 100 Springsteen concerts, said Obama then handed the phone to Springsteen, a New Jersey native whose songs often have been tributes to his youth in the state.

Upon landing in Columbus, Springsteen told a reporter that it was his first trip on Air Force One. Grinning, he said: "It was pretty cool." As for New Jersey, he said "I'm feeling pretty hopeful" that the state's hard-hit shore will recover

In Madison and Columbus, Springsteen serenaded audiences with renditions of top anthems "No Surrender," ''Promised Land," and "Land of Hope and Dreams." But he also has a custom made campaign song named after the Obama motto "Forward" - "Not the best I've ever written."

"How many things rhyme with Obama?" he asked.

Obama, no doubt, didn't mind.

"I'm going to be fine with Bruce Springsteen on the last day that I'll ever campaign," he said above the din of the crowd.

"That's not a bad way to bring it home. With The Boss. With The Boss"

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Doubles Romney in Online Ad Spending]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 15:40:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama+romney2.jpg

Online advertising for the 2012 presidential race increased a whopping 251 percent from four years ago, according to Federal Election Commission data provided through mid-October.

A San Francisco-based online marketing firm reviewed the data and provided Ward Room with a fascinating infographic showing how the collective $78 million was spent over time and by whom.

President Barack Obama, the data shows, spent $52 million for online ads during his 2012 campaign, compared to the $26 million spent by Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign.

To illustrate just how much money that is, ReTargeter.com points out that it cost a little more than $28 million to build the Washington Monument and about $40.5 million to build the Lincoln Memorial. And yes, those numbers were adjusted for 2012 dollars.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Endorses Three Democratic Hopefuls]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 12:45:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Duckworth-Foster-Schneider.jpg

With days to go in the 2012 Election, President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed congressional candidates Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider and Bill Foster.

"America's middle class needs these great leaders like Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider, and Bill Foster in Congress to stand up and fight for them," the president said in a statement backing his move. "They will create jobs here at home by building from the middle out, not the top down. They will protect Medicare for our seniors and education for our next generation."

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford was less than impressed by the move.

"I'm not surprised for a Democratic president to support a Democratic candidate. I'd be more surprised if he endorsed a Republican," Rutherford told NBC Chicago.

Still, the trio of candidates embraced the president's endorsement.

"I am proud to stand with President Obama in his efforts to stop student loan rates from doubling and for the job creating transportation bill, both measures that were supported by every Republican and Democrat member of the Illinois delegation except Congressman Joe Walsh," said Tammy Duckworth, who hopes to unseat the incumbent in Illinois' newly-redrawn 8th Congressional District.

Brad Schneider, who is challenging Republican Bob Dold for Illinois' 10th Congressional, said it was an "honor" to have Obama's support.

"The President has seen how the partisan gridlock has prevented critical work from being accomplished, and in Congress I hope to work alongside him to get real results for our middle-class families," he said.

Democrat Bill Foster, who hopes to unseat Rep. Judy Biggert in the 11th Congressional District, said the support was mutual.

"I'm proud to have President Obama's back and am honored that he has mine," he said. "The president understands the important link between economic growth and the strength of the middle class, and under his leadership we reversed the financial collapse, stabilized the housing market and have seen millions of new jobs created.  Just like the president's opponent, my opponent supports the same Bush policies that got us into this mess.  We need to restore rationality and a sense of common purpose to Congress and move this country forward, together."

<![CDATA[Get Out! Obama Volunteers Must Work for Elex Tickets]]> Fri, 02 Nov 2012 18:13:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP106175039345.jpg

Those volunteers who were hoping to go to the Obama Election Night Rally aren't a sure bet to make it onto the floor at McCormick Place on Nov. 6.  They'll have to work for it.    

The Obama team wants door to door workers in all important Wisconsin over this coming Saturday, Sunday and Monday.      

Volunteers can go to the Obama website and sign up for two shifts to help with the Get Out the Vote effort in Wisconsin, signing up on line, then after completing two volunteer shifts they will qualify for election night tickets to McCormick Place.  
There are limited tickets – and they will be given away on a  first come first serve basis.   

Note: This post was originally published Oct. 29, 2012.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Foster In Endorsement Flap]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 21:05:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/biggert+v.+foster.jpg

Bill Foster, the former congressman running against 11th District incumbent Judy Biggert, updated his website’s endorsements page after CLTV’s Paul Lisnek called him out for misleading voters.

 "As I read it, it indicated that, and basically your words are that the following entities have publicly supported you for Congress, but it listed Chicago Tribune, Kane County Chronicle, Daily Herald. Now, they have endorsed Judy Biggert.”

"Those are primary endorsements," Foster explained. "I think if you look at the day all those were posted, I was endorsed by all those organizations in the primary.”

Foster’s website now includes the word “primary” in parenthesis after each publication’s name. Foster defeated Juan Thomas and Jim Hickey in the March 20 Democratic primary.

In other 11th District news, Biggert received the endorsement of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who said:

Judy Biggert is an example of the thoughtful, bipartisan, commonsense leadership we need in Washington. She has a proven record of working across the aisle to address the problems confronting Illinoisans and all Americans every day. She is committed to improving our economic competitiveness and protecting the country, I’m proud to stand with her as she works to represent the 11th District.
<![CDATA[Bloomberg Backs Obama, Citing Climate Change ]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 19:07:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bloomberg7.jpg

With just five days left before Election Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his support for President Barack Obama in an unexpected endorsement prompted by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

The mayor, a political independent, who has been a sharp critic of both Obama and Romney, explained in an op-ed article for Bloomberg View that the superstorm—the second in 14 months to force evacuations in parts of New York City— "brought the stakes of next Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief."

It was Obama's environmental policies that ultimately swayed the influential mayor. "Our climate is changing," Bloomberg wrote in the piece titled "A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change."

"While the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be—given this week's devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action," he added.

Bloomberg praised Obama's efforts to reduce carbon consumption, noting the president's work to raise fuel-efficiency standards and to adopt tighter controls of mercury emissions. But he balanced that praise with a hefty dose of criticism.

"As a president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction," Bloomberg wrote. "And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it."

He also expressed disappointment in Romney's shifted views on the environment, immigration, abortion rights, illegal guns and health care, noting that, "If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him, because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four year to be, in a word, disappointing."

He did praise Romney's business experience and called him "a good decent man," but boiled his final decision down to the following observations:

"One believes a woman's right to choose should be protected for future generations; one does not ... One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America's march of freedom; one does not ... One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not."

He added that neither candidate "has specified what hard decision he will make to get our economy back on track while also balancing the budget" but said that what matters more is finding bipartisan solutions, which he noted Obama could do by listening "to people on both sides of the aisle" and by building the trust of moderates.

Obama said he was "honored" to have the mayor's endorsement.

"While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time," Obama wrote in a statement. "That the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it."

The president added that he appreciates "the extraordinary job [Bloomberg is] doing" to help his city rebound from the devastation left in Sandy's wake, and vowed to stand by New York in its time of need.  

“New Yorkers have my word that we will recover, we will rebuild, and we will come back stronger."

Three days after an unprecedented storm surge inundated parts of New York City that had never been under water, the city’s death toll had ticked up to 37, more than half a million homes and businesses were still in the dark, and the city’s transit system remained crippled.

The mayor noted in his endorsement that efforts made on the local level to take on the sort of extreme weather that had blighted parts of his city were not enough. “We need leadership from the White House.”

Bloomberg, who is in his third term as mayor, recently established a super PAC to support state, federal and local candidates from any political party, as well as independents, who share his views on same-sex marriage, gun control or school reform, The New York Times reported.

He plans to spend $10 million to $15 million of his own money to “influence national policy" around those issues one adviser told the Times.

Bloomberg endorsed President George W. Bush in 2004 and did not endorse any candidate in 2008.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Axelrod Bets 'Stache on Obama Wins]]> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 20:39:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/axelrodstache1.jpg

Barack Obama's chief campaign strategist is so confident the president will win the battleground states of Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania that he's put his mustache on the line.

During an appearance Wednesday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, David Axelrod said he'd come on the show after the election and shave it off if GOP candidate Mitt Romney prevails in any of those states.

"I’m telling you Joe, with all due respect to the public polls out there, they’re all over the map," said Axelrod. "I will come on Morning Joe and I will shave off my mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those three states."

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, agreed to grow a mustache if Obama wins either Florida or North Carolina.

The wager came up after a discussion about Romney tightening the race in those states.

And as these things go, a parody Twitter account -- @AxelrodsStache -- appeared hours after the exchange.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Analyst: Sandy Could Give Obama a Boost]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 16:16:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TWEBSERAFIN_9885646_722x406_5449283715.jpg Political analyst Thom Serafin weighs in on Decision 2012 and the final push.]]> <![CDATA[PAC Money Flows Into Illinois Races]]> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 18:42:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WEB+PA+Primary+getty.jpg

More than $42 million in "independent expenditures" has been spent on 12 Congressional races in Illinois, according to totals compiled by the Federal Election Commission.

Competitive races in the 8th, 10th, 11th and 17th congressional districts have attracted the most money.

The independent expenditures come from congressional PACS associated with the Republican and Democratic parties and from PACS and SuperPacs in which the money trial is harder to follow.

The money has been free flowing and on this day -- October 31st -- in a matter of hours the total jumped from just over $39 million to $42.4 million. 

DePaul University political science professor Mike Mezey said he is not surprised by the amount of money being spent.  Two years ago five republicans ousted five democrats.  Both parties are spending freely to either keep the status quo or change the balance in Congress.

Only one other state -- California -- has attracted more money.

Much of the money is used for negative advertising but Mezey says the purpose of the ads may not be what you think.

"Negative advertising’s primary function is to energize the base," he said

Totals as of Halloween in some of the more competitive races: 

  • Joe Walsh (R) vs. Tammy Duckworth (D) 8th CD: $5.4 million; 
  • Bob Dold (R) vs. Brad Schneider (D) 10th CD: $6.4 million; 
  • Judy Biggert (R) vs. Bill Foster (D) 11th CD; $8-million; 
  • Bobby Schilling (R) vs. Cheri Bustos (D) 17th CD; $19.1 million 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>