Davis ekes out his 1st victory

Republican Rodney Davis, aided by wins in counties at the southern and western edge of the 13th Congressional District, is going to Washington.

He narrowly defeated Democrat David Gill of Bloomington, who nearly pulled out a victory with a huge vote advantage in Champaign County and lesser margins in Sangamon and McLean counties.

The Associated Press called the race for Davis around 11:25 p.m. Tuesday. By 2 a.m. Wednesday, with 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Davis had a lead of 3,809 votes, or a 47 percent to 46 percent advantage.

However, late Tuesday night, Gill had not conceded defeat.

Gill led in Champaign County by nearly 10,000 votes, or 56 percent to 36 percent.

Davis, 42, is believed to be the first congressman ever from Christian County. Neither the Davis campaign nor the Taylorville public library was able to identify any other resident of the county who had been elected to Congress.

It was the fourth fruitless election for Gill, 52, who lost to U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson in 2010 (64 percent to 36 percent), in 2006 (58 percent to 42 percent) and in 2004 (61 percent to 39 percent).

Finishing far behind, with about 7 percent of the districtwide vote, was independent John Hartman, 56, of Edwardsville. The underfunded Hartman got about 6.7 percent of the vote in Champaign County.

Unlike past elections, Champaign County on Tuesday sided with the Democratic congressional candidate — but there are two significant explanations. For the last six congressional elections the Republican candidate was Johnson, a resident of Urbana and a regular presence on the local election ballot. Second, the new congressional map places only Champaign-Urbana and the southwestern corner of the county in the 13th District. About three-quarters of the county, including the most Republican precincts, were placed in the overwhelmingly Republican 15th District.

Johnson had won the 13th District Republican primary in March but two weeks later announced that he would not run for re-election. Davis later was chosen the GOP candidate by the 14 Republican county chairmen in the district.

The race was one of the most expensive in the country, attracting more than $6.7 million in outside spending by 18 separate super PACs, political action committees and nonprofit groups including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the American Action Network. The millions in outside spending, supposedly uncoordinated with the candidates' campaigns, swamped the $936,702 spent by the Gill campaign and the $840,810 expended by the Davis campaign committee.

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johnny wrote on November 07, 2012 at 2:11 am

Five Illinois Republicans lose their bids for re-election to Congress, while Davis wins in an Obama district despite a supposed Independent siphoning off 7 percent of the vote. Testament to both Davis's people skills and Urbana's insistence on David Gill for the fourth time over the competent Matt Goetten.  Lots of lessons to be learned here.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 07, 2012 at 5:11 am
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Yep. I voted for Goetten in the primary, and Hartsm... what's his name? You know, in the general.

I don't hate Dr. Gill for handing the election to the 'pubs every two years. But I do wonder who's paying him to do it. I want to think he's making a profit on being the patsy. 

Jen R wrote on November 07, 2012 at 9:11 am

Goetten wasn't that great. I listened to the debate between him and Gill on WILL and was absolutely shocked by how unprepared he was.

thelowedown wrote on November 07, 2012 at 11:11 am

I was actually an in-person attendee at the WILL Democratic congressional debate back in March, and Goetten was wholly unprepared on the issues and it showed in his responses and body language. Further, before the debate I heard Goetten advisors badmouthing Gill in an extremely personal fashion, and despite that I still voted for Goetten because Gill is just a loser. He's a nice man, but he's just a loser. Goetten would have been as much of a stock candidate as Davis is. In that case, I probably would have voted for John Hartman, but trying to avoid Davis I voted for Gill.

wayward wrote on November 07, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Yeah, I like Gill but was willing to consider other Democratic candidates in the primary as well.  Goetten came to the big Dem dinner and told people that he'd decided not to run for office.  Then shortly later, he announced that he was.  I went with Gill in the primary.