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Illinois - 8th District

Incumbent -- Melissa Bean (D) ; Defeated by Joe Walsh, R, in general election on November 2, 2010

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated Aug. 19, 2010

The 8th, a mainly affluent district in suburbs and exurbs north and west of Chicago, long was represented by Republican Philip M. Crane, one of the most conservative House members.

But Bean, a business executive and working mother, ousted Crane in a 2004 rematch of her unsuccessful 2002 bid; staved off a serious and well-funded Republican challenge in 2006; and cruised to an easy re-election victory over businessman Steve Greenberg in 2008 with 61 percent of the vote.

This is not a slam-dunk Democratic district, though -- Bean ran about 5 percentage points ahead of 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in the 8th. And national Republicans billed the quality of their candidates as better this time, with Long Grove Village President Maria Rodriguez, businessman Dirk Beveridge and businessman Chris Geissler among the six candidates who filed to run in the Feb. 2 primary.

But none of them caught on well with GOP primary voters, and the nomination instead went to Joe Walsh, a financial adviser and fundraiser for conservative education policy groups who appealed to conservative activists, including those involved in the "Tea Party" movement. Walsh won a bit more than 16,000 votes and 34 percent of the overall total to 25 percent for Beveridge and 21 percent for Rodriguez.

The activist support Walsh drew could give him an enthusiastic base of supporters for his general election campaign, but it's not clear early on whether that will enable him to do too much better than he did in his previous venture into congressional politics: He took 37 percent of the vote as the 1996 Republican challenger to longtime Democratic Rep. Sidney R. Yates in the neighboring 9th District.

Bean this year is running in a much tougher political environment for Democrats than she did in her past two elections, but the Republicans' nomination of a little-known challenger puts her on relatively firm footing. So does the $1 million she raised through Jan. 13 and the $785,000 in cash on hand she had as of that date. Walsh reported $101,000 in receipts - and about $6,800 in cash on hand - as of Jan. 13.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 8th, in the northeast corner of the state, takes in northwestern Cook County and parts of Lake and McHenry counties. Most residents live in the affluent, well-established suburbs just northwest of Chicago or farther north through western Lake County and toward the Chain O' Lakes vacation communities near the Wisconsin border.

The district is home to many white-collar employers, including sales and health care companies. Some of the 8th's cities, such as Palatine (shared with the 10th) and Schaumburg (a small part of which is in the 6th and 10th districts), have lured corporate headquarters. A major shopping mall in Schaumburg draws business from across the northwest and west exurbs. Cook County benefits from its access to interstates and proximity to O'Hare International Airport (in the 6th).

The 8th includes most of Lake County, where a slight majority of district residents live. This area is largely upscale and well-educated, particularly in the southwest Lake villages of North Barrington and Kildeer. The northeastern part of McHenry County is home to sparsely populated, affluent towns.

After more than a half-century of sending Republicans to the U.S. House followed by three terms electing a Democrat, the state's northeast corner has developed a swing character. Democrat Barack Obama won 56 percent of the 8th's 2008 presidential vote.

Major Industry

Health care, insurance, retail, government

Cities

Schaumburg (pt.), 70,380; Palatine (pt.), 48,255; Hoffman Estates (pt.), 42,559

notable

The Volo Auto Museum features classic and celebrity cars.

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