Cheri Bustos cruised to victory in the 17th Congressional District election, defeating incumbent U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, who lost after serving just one term in Congress.
The East Moline Democrat's win was buttressed by a strong showing in Rock Island County, where she won by more than 10 points, and in Winnebago County, where she had a winning margin of almost 9,000 votes.
With all but one of the 14 counties in district reporting, Ms. Bustos had 136,794 votes to Rep. Schilling's 125,244 votes, giving her a winning margin of 52 to 47 percent. VIDEO:
Democrats and Republicans had flooded the district with over $9 million in outside money in what was one of the most closely-watched congressional elections in the country.
Ms. Bustos and her family waited in a room at the Holiday Inn while the results came in from across the 17th District. Downstairs, supporters had gathered in a banquet hall in the hope of celebrating a victory for their candidate.When it became clear she would win and she made her way downstairs a large crowd of supporters erupted in celebration.
"This has really been about people on both sides of the aisle standing up for what's right and I do want to recognize Congressman Bobby Schilling for his efforts for the last two years," she said.
The rest of her speech was music to the ears of the Democrats who also were beginning to see President Obama solidify victory on nearby TV screens.
"I will fight as hard as I can fight to make sure that Social Security is not privatized and we need to make sure that Medicare does not turn into a voucher program where the Medicare guaranteed benefits end," she said. "Government can be a help, government's not the bad guy."
The biggest applause of the night came when a crowd member shouted to Ms. Bustos,"You should have had the party at Short Hills!"
Ms. Bustos quickly replied that she was not a member of Short Hills.
Republicans had run negative ads suggesting Ms. Bustos had personally benefited from a street project near her house in East Moline that connected to Short Hills Country Club.
She promised to work to end gridlock in Congress and also spoke of the workers at Sensata Technologies in Freeport, whose jobs are being outsourced to China.
Ms. Bustos has used the plight of those workers as a symbol of trade policies that don't benefit U.S. workers and that she has pledged to change in Congress.
One block away, at The Stern Center, also in downtown Rock Island, the mood could not have been more different as it became clear to Republicans that Rep. Schilling was going to lose.
He arrived at the Republican election party after calling Ms. Bustos to congratulate here. As he walked into the building, several supporters broke down in tears.
Rep. Schilling was unexpectedly elected in 2010, defeating incumbent Democratic Rep. Phil Hare in territory Democrats had held for decades. He said he had helped pass free trade agreements, a transportation bill and work for veterans while in office.
"This Congress changed the way Washington D.C. does business forever and I'm darn proud of it," he said. "And only in a country like America, the greatest country on earth, can a pizza guy with ten kids decide that he's going to run for Congress."
Standing next to his wife Christie and son and campaign manager Terry, he said he was looking forward to returning to his pizza restaurant.
"I get to go back to my family, back to my business and continue making the best pizza in the Quad Cities," he said.
Rep. Schilling also added that he might consider a run for the U.S. Senate in the future. He also promised to ensure a smooth transition of power to Ms. Bustos.
Today is Friday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2013. There are 18 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Merry sleigh bells jingle in our streets in the wake of a driving northwest storm of snow and rain. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Thomas Campbell was elected commander of John Buford Post 243, Grand Army of the Republic. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Thomas B. Reidy was named consul of C.W. Hawes Camp No. 1550, and L.H. Eihl was named consul of Camp 29, Modern Woodmen of America. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Rock Island aldermen last night upheld the view of a petition signed by 150 businessmen that the city should not install parking meters. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Total volume during the Christmas mailing season may reach 12 million pieces in Rock Island, according to Rock Island Postmaster Carl J.L. Wessel. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The aromas filling the air at the Rock Island Lines depot in Rock Island soon will be prime rib and roast duck rather than sawdust and plaster. A tourist train will be offering dinner excursions in mid-February or early March, according to Dan Carmody, executive director of the Development Association of Rock Island.