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GOP Claims Illinois Congressional Majority

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UPDATED 11/2/10 – 11:42 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Republicans have seized a majority in Illinois’ congressional delegation, defeating three incumbent Democrats and taking the state’s only open congressional seat. They also were on the verge of a surprise win against three-term Congresswoman Melissa Bean.

If Republican Joe Walsh pulls out a victory over Bean, the GOP would hold 11 of Illinois’ 19 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The GOP has already taken the state’s only open congressional seat, after businessman Robert Dold narrowly defeated three-time Democratic candidate Dan Seals.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting on Tuesday, Dold had 51 percent of the votes, compared with Seals’ 49 percent. The race was closely watched and means Illinois now has a Republican majority congressional delegation for the first time in seven years.

Dold is the owner of a suburban Chicago pest control company.

The 10th congressional district stretches north of Chicago. It has been largely Republican but had recently been trending Democratic.

Five-term Republican Congressman Mark Kirk gave up the seat and won President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat on Tuesday.

Meantime, fueled by tea party support and a national anti-incumbency mood, Republicans also captured the seats held by Democratic Reps. Debbie Halvorson, Bill Foster and Phil Hare. And fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean is facing a surprisingly close battle in her district.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Joe Walsh was leading Bean 49 percent to 48 percent, a margin of about 700 votes. Few pundits had expected Bean to face such a tight race.

In the 14th District, physicist Bill Foster lost to Republican state Sen. Randy Hultgren. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Hultgren had 52 percent of the votes on Tuesday and Foster had about 45 percent.

The 14th district stretches west of Chicago and is heavily Republican.

Foster had won the seat in a special election in 2008 after former House Speaker Dennis Hastert retired.

Before Foster’s win in 2008, the seat had been held by a Republican for more than 70 years, so taking the seat back has been seen as a top priority by the GOP.

Attack ads have flown back and forth between Foster and Hultgren throughout the campaign and both national parties and interest groups have dumped a lot of money into the race.

Hultgren has regularly tied Foster to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite target of tea party anger, and has painted him as too liberal for the district.

For his part, Foster has countered that Hultgren is one of the most conservative members of the state legislature and has noted his opposition to the cap-and-trade bill that is so unpopular with the right wing.

In the 11th District, Republican Adam Kinzinger has defeated first-term Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Kinzinger had about 58 percent votes and Halvorson had about 42 percent of the vote.

Kinzinger is an Air Force pilot who has received heavy backing from tea party activists and an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Halvorson, a former state senator, won her first term in the 11th District in 2008 after Rep. Jerry Weller retired amid ethics questions.

The district stretches south of Chicago to Bloomington.

Republican Jerry Weller held that seat for 14 years before retiring in 2008 amid questions about land deals in Nicaragua. Halvorson scored 58 percent of the vote to take the seat for Democrats.

Halvorson had touted tax breaks for businesses to help promote job creation and ramp up the economy. She also wants to close tax loopholes that make it cheaper for companies to leave the country.

At the same time, she also attacked Kinzinger as too young and inexperienced for the job and has claimed he would gut Social Security.

But Kinzinger has said he would not take away benefits from current retirees or those close to retiring. He is pushing for a commission to study how to keep Social Security solvent.

Kinzinger has labeled Halvorson as a career politician who votes the party line.

In the 17th District, Hare has conceded to pizzeria owner Bobby Schilling, who was running for office for the first time. Schilling received heavy tea party support in the district, which covers a large portion of the state’s western border.

With 93 percent of precincts reporting as of 10:46 p.m., Schilling was leading Hare 54 percent to 42 percent, with Green Party candidate Roger Davis at 5 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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