By proxy that is.
Democrat Bill Foster, endorsed by Barack Obama, has snatched former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's congressional seat in a closely watched special election in Illinois that gave the longtime Republican district to the Democrats. Foster has won 52 percent of the vote compared to 48 percent for Republican Jim Oberweis.
That result was amazing given the 14th District's clear Republican lean.
President Bush won the district, which spans into the far western suburbs of Chicago, with 55 percent in 2004 and 54 percent in 2000.
Hastert won reelection easily for more than two decades.
Bill Foster was endorsed by Barack Obama, and ran on a similar platform of "change". Obama made a TV ad praising Foster. Meanwhile, McCain campaigned for the Republican candidate Jim Oberweis, and fundraised for his campaign.
Watch the Obama ad for Bill Foster:
Foster's win should demonstrate to the Democratic leadership that Obama can help elect more Democrats to Congress, even in formerly "safe" Republican sites.
The defeat is a major setback for the NRCC and House Republicans. The NRCC spent nearly $1.3 million defending the seat, a significant percentage of the $6.4 million the committee showed on hand at the end of January. That is a major investment of limited resources, only to
come up empty.
House Republicans, already dispirited by the loss of their majority in the 2006 election and more than two dozen retirements within their ranks since then, will likely take this defeat hard. Watch to see how many of them will retire over the coming weeks as vulnerable members take the Illinois special election as a sign of things to come in the fall.