Reporting Bernie Tafoya
UPDATED 11/16/10 – 6:12 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) - Unofficial election results show Republican Joe Walsh holding a slim 291-vote lead over incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean in Illinois’ 8th District.
Election officials in Cook, Lake and McHenry counties released vote totals on Tuesday that show Walsh has 98,115 votes overall, compared with Bean’s 97,824.
Tuesday was the deadline for absentee ballots to arrive by mail.
Both candidates are in Washington and were unavailable immediately for comment. Bean has scheduled a Wednesday press conference in Chicago to discuss the results. Walsh was scheduled to discuss the results Tuesday evening in D.C.
Walsh declared victory back on Nov. 3, after the initial count showed him far ahead. He ran his campaign according to the so-called “28 founding principles” of the United States, “not the least of which are limited government, free enterprise and the rule of law as established by our Constitution.”
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Government spending, gun rights, and curbing illegal immigration were among the major themes of his campaign.
In the last few weeks of the campaign, the Bean campaign began airing attack ads portraying Walsh as a right-wing extremist.
The ad campaign took Walsh to task for supporting concealed weapons, calling for the abolition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and calling for a ban on abortion without exception, including in cases of rape and incest.
Sound bites used in the ad showed Walsh saying, “We’re at the beginning of a war,” “This is a revolution,” and, without specifying what he is talking about, “Some people may say that’s reckless, but so what?”
“Reckless? Joe, that’s dangerous,” Walsh says in the ad.
“Melissa Bean, you’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. “Ten percent unemployment, foreclosures up throughout our district, people’s entire savings wiped out, our economy is in tatters – and you attack me for my position on abortion?”
Walsh received backing from tea party groups during the campaign. A Walsh win would mean the state’s 19-member congressional delegation will have 11 Republicans.
Bean is a three-term Democrat in what has long been a GOP-leaning district. The 8th District was represented for 35 years by Republican Congressman Phil Crane. Bean unseated him in 2004.
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