Bean Says Goodbye to 8th District, Congratulates Walsh
Incumbent 8th District Rep. Melissa Bean lost her reelection bid to Republican Joe Walsh.
U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean said goodbye to the 8th Congressional District, acknowledging she was defeated by a Republican wave and a grassroots campaign that was not completely unlike her own six years ago.
Bean lost by 291 votes to Republican Joe Walsh. More than 200,000 ballots were cast in the race. The margin was close enough that Bean waited until the absentee and provisional ballots were counted before conceding.
"I took him seriously," Bean said in response to a question during a press conference held in Schaumburg. "I ran my own citizen candidate [campaign] myself, with my own grassroots effort. So I never ruled anything out. And I remember what it was like to essentially not be taken seriously by the media."
Six years ago, few gave Bean, a Barrington Democrat, a chance in her campaign against Phil Crane who had served in Congress since 1969. The 8th Congressional District had long been a Republican stronghold.
Bean was able to pull off the upset against Crane in 2004. It was the second time she had run against him. Bean was targeted by the national Republican Party in 2006 and to a lesser extent in 2008, winning both times.
After six years in office Bean found herself as the established incumbent facing an upstart, long shot grassroots campaign.
Despite the fact Republicans expected to make huge gains during the 2010 election, Walsh received little support from the national party. Although, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele visited Palatine in the weeks before the election for Walsh and other area Republican candidates, money was not forthcoming.
Walsh raised about $428,844 in contributions on his own according to the Federal Election Commission. None of the money came from Republican committees. When Walsh's campaign ended, he had $4,089 cash on hand and debts of more than $84,000.
Bean raised more than $1.9 million and ended the campaign with more cash on hand–$441,318–than Walsh had raised.
"Two hundred ninety one votes out of 200,000 votes cast is certainly not a mandate," Bean said. "But certainly [there was] a national wave that swept out 60 members of Congress and we were one of them, but by a very narrow margin in what you [media] have always called a very tough district [for a Democrat]," Bean said.
Bean said she did not regret her votes on issues such as health care bill, which she supported.
"I'm very proud of the work we've done. I've proven thoughtful and deliberative about every piece of legislation that has come before me," Bean said. "I wouldn't have changed that at all. I worked to moderate legislation that I didn't like and if I could moderate it to a point that it made good sense, I supported it."
Bean did not answer questions about her future or speculate about what might have made a difference in the election. In her opening statements she congratulated Walsh and talked about how much she had enjoyed representing the 8th District.
"I think this is a day to acknowledge the new representative of the 8th District," Bean said.