Kirk Retains 10th Congressional District in Rematch

Republican incumbent Mark Kirk has held onto his 10th Congressional District seat in a rematch of the 2006 race against newcomer Democrat Dan Seals.

With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Kirk had more than 54 percent and Seals had 45 percent.

The contest was one of Illinois' marquee races.  Seals is a business consultant who portrayed himself as an agent of change like fellow Democrat Barack Obama and Kirk played up his contributions to the district.

Seals almost defeated Kirk in a race for the same seat two years ago and he said he hopes to seal the deal with voters on Tuesday.

After comfortable margins in elections against other challengers, Kirk beat Seals in 2006 with only 53 percent of the vote in a district with a mix of wealthy and working-class communities that borders Lake Michigan and stretches north of Chicago to almost Wisconsin.

Kirk, a moderate, has played up his contributions to the district, while Seals has portrayed himself as an agent of change like Barack Obama.

"Today we're already seeing a good turnout. That's a good sign. I think these folks aren't coming out to vote for more of the same. I think they're coming out to vote for change," Seals said Tuesday. "The way the economic situation has developed, I think, we've seen more and more people coming to our side, and say, 'You know what, enough is enough. We've got to move in a new direction.'"

Kirk, a Naval Reserve commander, has been endorsed by every newspaper, and said Obama's popularity won't be a challenge for him. "I've shared the ballot with Barack Obama before, so in 2004, he won 70 percent of the vote in this district and I won 65. We are the best-educated congressional district in the country. We vote the person, not the party," Kirk said.

Whatever the outcome, Kirk called Tuesday a "real day of Democracy."

"Finally we surrender our labels as Democrats and Republicans and become Americans again," Kirk said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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