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.