CHICAGO (AP) _ A longtime Republican congressman and Illinois' first-term Democratic treasurer will fight in November for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat, one of the most coveted in the nation and one the GOP is eager to capture.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk won his party's nomination in Tuesday's Illinois primary and treasurer Alexi Giannoulias grabbed the Democratic nod.
“The people of Illinois now see the arrogance of a one-party state and this election will show that we will not surrender to their dangerous cynicism of low expectations because we are Americans and we can do anything,'' Kirk told supporters Tuesday night.
Giannoulias was quick to go after Kirk, a five-term congressman.
“Come November, congressman, your days as a Washington insider are over,'' Giannoulias said.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Kirk had 386,310 votes, or 57 percent, easily trouncing the field of five other little-knowns candidates.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Giannoulias had 320,690 votes, or 39 percent, and his closest competitor, former city of Chicago inspector general David Hoffman, had 279,032 votes or 34 percent. Two other candidates, including Chicago Urban League chief Cheryle Jackson, were in the race and one recently dropped out.
A tough fight also was expected in two key Congressional races in Illinois, including an open seat from the Chicago suburbs that Kirk gave up to run for Senate.
The big prize is the Senate seat Obama vacated when he was elected president _ especially important to both parties after an upset win by the GOP in Massachusetts cost the Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate.
Republicans have targeted the seat since Roland Burris was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich after Blagojevich was accused of trying to sell the seat. Burris decided against running for a full term.
Democrats, meanwhile, are gunning for the seat Kirk managed to hold on to even though his suburban 10th Congressional District, a mix of wealthy and blue collar communities north of Chicago, has trended Democratic in recent years. Three Democrats are running: veteran state Rep. Julie Hamos, lawyer Elliot Richardson and Dan Seals, a business consultant who lost twice to Kirk.
The Republican field is more crowded with five candidates: veteran state Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, pest-control company head Robert Dold, pediatrician Arie Friedman, businessman Dick Green and electrical engineer Paul Hamann.
Republicans also are trying to take back former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's seat in Illinois' 14th Congressional District, which stretches from west of Chicago to almost the Mississippi River.
Hastert's 31-year-old son, Ethan, has tried to make the most of his family name, but has met resistance from conservatives as well as his GOP opponent, former state Rep. Randy Hultgren, who casts him as inexperienced.
The Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, was unopposed in the primary. Foster took the once-reliable GOP stronghold away from Republicans in a 2008 special election after Dennis Hastert retired.
Pictured above is Mark Kirk.