Davis not surprised by his razor-thin victory, even if CNN was

Davis not surprised by his razor-thin victory, even if CNN was

CHAMPAIGN — U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said he wasn't necessarily surprised that Tuesday's election was as close as it was.

But he was thrown for a loop when House Speaker Paul Ryan called to offer his condolences after CNN called the 13th Congressional District for his Democratic opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan.

"I found out by getting a call from the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and I said to the speaker, 'I don't know what they're looking at,'" the Taylorville Republican said Wednesday in an interview with News-Gazette Media's WDWS 1400-AM. "He called me back a half-hour later to gleefully say that they changed their prognostication."

By the end of the night, CNN changed its call to Davis, and shortly after midnight, The Associated Press called it for Davis, too.

Davis declared victory late Tuesday, while Londrigan waited to concede until absentee and provisional ballots were counted.

With Davis' lead holding, Londrigan called him Wednesday afternoon.

"While this outcome was not the one we had hoped for, it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to spend the last 16 months in this race," Londrigan said in a statement.

With all precincts reporting, Davis has 136,038 votes, or 50.5 percent, to Londrigan's 133,308 votes, or 49.5 percent.

In a post-election news conference at the White House, President Donald Trump tried to take credit for Davis' victory, saying Davis was on his "list of people that were fantastic" because they "embraced our message of low taxes, low regulations, low crime, strong borders and great judges."

But Davis' narrow victory came two years after he won the district with 60 percent of the vote, and it was almost as narrow as his initial victory in 2012.

When he ran that year for the newly redrawn district stretching from Champaign to Edwardsville, he won by just 1,002 votes.

"We knew ... Democrats were going to be energized after losing the presidency. This district was drawn by Democrats in Springfield to elect a Democrat," Davis said Wednesday. "We knew that there was going to be sustained opposition."

Facing a Democratic-controlled U.S. House come January, Davis said he's hoping for more bipartisanship.

"I think in a very small majority that the Democrats will have, that puts somebody like me who's willing to work with the other side in a better position to govern," Davis said. "I think the president is more than willing to work with Democrats on addressing issues such as infrastructure investment."

Davis also continued to say he supports protecting health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, despite voting for the GOP health plan that would have repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act.

While that plan included a provision to protect pre-existing-condition coverage, fact-checkers and the Congressional Budget Office have pointed out that it allowed states to be granted waivers that would have made premiums unaffordable for many residents with pre-existing conditions.

In her concession statement, Londrigan said Davis needs to keep his promises on pre-existing-condition coverage.

"During this campaign, big promises were made about protecting people with pre-existing conditions," she said. "Those making the promises must be held accountable, and the fight for access to affordable health care must continue."

Davis said Wednesday that funding for medical research has increased under the Trump administration.

"We've been able to put $5 billion over the last two years into curing some of the deadliest diseases before they become pre-existing conditions," he said.

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