Experience won out over name recognition Tuesday night as Illinois General Assembly veteran Randy Hultgren defeated Ethan Hastert for the Republican nomination in the 14th Congressional District.
Hultgren will face Democratic incumbent Bill Foster and Green Party candidate Dan Kairis in November.
Hastert called to concede around 10 p.m. Unofficial tallies had Hultgren winning by nearly 6,000 votes with all the precincts counted.
"People were able to see the work I've been doing," Hultgren said in pointing out experience as one of the deciding factors in the race. "I think people understood that Congress is really unique, and this really needs to be the people's seat. It's still too early to tell what really made the difference in the race. We'll process through it all, but we had the support of a lot of different groups."
Hultgren had 34,735 votes, or 55 percent, while Hastert received 28,745, or 45 percent.
Hultgren said Hastert pledged to support him in any way he could during his concession call. One major way Hastert may be able to help is fundraising, which he showed a knack for in the primary race. Hultgren expects the backing of the Republican Party moving forward, but the question remains about how much the party will dump into the race after unsuccessfully trying to unseat Foster previously. To date, Hultgren is still far behind the $1 million Foster has in reserves to get his message out.
"We started late in this campaign, and we didn't have some of the national resources that (Hastert) had, but we were able to raise money locally," Hultgren said. "An important part of this is going to make sure we have the resources to point out the differences we have with Bill Foster. However, that's secondary to the voters' backing."
Hastert was humble in conceding the outcome of the race.
"State Sen. Randy Hultgren was a formidable opponent, in part, because he and I entered this race for the same reasons," Hastert said in a written statement. "With the support of independent voters and like-minded Democrats, Randy Hultgren can stop the reckless federal spending and get America back to work."
Hultgren has publicly slammed most of the votes and stances Foster has taken during his short time in office. The key issues moving forward will likely center on corporate bailouts, the federal stimulus package and Foster's backing of health care reform with aspects Republicans have labeled as "Obamacare."