Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin earned himself another term on capitol hill Tuesday night, NBC News projects.
Durbin, the U.S. Senate’s second most powerful Democrat, edged out Jim Oberweis to hold onto his seat for another six year term.
"This election campaign is historic," Durbin said during his victory speech. We have to reclaim the American polital syste and it ought to start tonight!"
Though pre-polling data consistently showed him ahead of his challenger, Durbin expressed a sense of vulnerability and said he frequently reminded himself of Eric Cantor, the former congressman from Virginia and House Majority Leader whose surprising loss in the primary election earlier this year to economics professor Dave Brat sent shock waves through the House of Representatives.
But Durbin said he built a coalition.
"We brought everyone together- black white, brown, young, old, gay, straight, all together because we believe that is what gives our nation strength and what gives Illinois strength," Durbin said.
While Tuesday’s election would determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, Durbin, as Majority Whip, is among the nation’s most powerful leaders.
Durbin has a long history of liberal fiscal policy, gun control, and equal rights for women and gays.
That made him an easy target for Oberweis, a conservative Republican state senator and local dairy mogul. In their last televised debate, Oberweis labeled Durbin a “walking job killer.”
But Oberweis struck a more collegial tone during his concession speech.
"We did what we could to hold Dick Durbin accountable in this race and we're certainly proud of that," Oberweis said in his concession speech. "I just called him and I wished him good luck and told him that I would do whatever I could to help him if he ever needed such help."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel congratulated Durbin Tuesday night.
"The City of Chicago could not ask for a better partner in the U.S. Senate than him," Emanuel said in a statement. "On everything from rebuilding the CTA to making Chicago a center for research and innovation, Senator Durbin works tirelessly to ensure that we have the federal resources we need to bring economic opportunity to every one of our neighborhoods. I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Durbin to move Chicago forward one neighborhood and one community at a time.”