In the days when House Speaker Dennis Hastert roamed the Earth, Illinois' 14th Congressional District was a guaranteed red-state Republican romp.
The Grand Old Party had gone unbeaten, untied and unscored-upon in this conservative Chicago collar-county district since 1939, and when the former Yorkville High School wrestling coach rose to the lofty post of House speaker, it seemed there would be no end to the 14th District Republican dynasty.
Then came Hastert's curious midterm retirement. And a nationwide Democratic insurgence. And Bill Foster’s 2008 win over Hastert’s hand-picked successor, Jim Oberweis.
Randy Hultgren righted the 14th District ship for his political party with a close win over Foster in 2010 and sealed the deal Tuesday when he defeated Democrat Dennis Anderson with nearly 59 percent of the vote, 173,317-120,760.
Anderson could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Hultgren credited the decisive win to a solid ground game in a district that now covers seven counties—DuPage, Will, Kendall, DeKalb, Kane, McHenry and Lake.
"We had good stong support throughout the district, even in the newer parts, and we worked hard building relationships and getting to know people," Hultgren said shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday. "And I think we were able to follow through on promises we made to be accessible and available and fight for the things people are asking for in the 14th District."
And those things are?
"They want to see this economy start growing again and jobs start growing again," Hultgren said. "They want us to support legislation that will help to do that. And they want more accountability in Washington, D.C. We've got to start living within our means."
Despite the 18-point margin, Hulgren knows the 14th District isn't the Republican fait accompli it might have been during the the Republican Party's halcyon days.
"It’s a very different district," he said. "I know this is contrary to what you hear about Washington, but I think many people are looking more often to the individual and are less driven by parties. We’ve seen split tickets in a lot of states. For us, (getting re-elected) is not so much a party issue as it is following through on what we said we were going to do."
Ironically, Hultgren finished out his election night with a long drive to the Lisle Hilton to be with fellow Republican Congressman Judy Biggert, who had just lost to Bill Foster in the newly realligned, Democrat-leaning 11th District.
"To win that district, we knew we needed everything to go right for us," Hultgren said.
"She just got beat by a map."