Daniel Biss Ends Long Run with 17th District Illinois House Win
Evanston Democrat reverses outcome of previous election, tops Republican with more than 54 percent of vote.
Daniel Biss' election to the Illinois' House of Representatives has been four years in the making.
"It feels like a big deal to a lot of people in this room because we worked so hard for it for such a very long time," the Evanston Democrat told supporters, friends and family in a victory speech at a Morton Grove Giordano's Pizza Tuesday night.
Biss defeated first-time Republican candidate Hamilton Chang with slightly more than 54 percent of the vote. It was his second run for the seat, formerly held by Republican Elizabeth Coulson. Coulson stepped down this year after an unsuccessful primary bid to represent the 10th District in the U.S. Congress.
"It feels like a big deal," said the former University of Chicago math professor. "But it doesn't have to be a big deal, right? I mean, it's just another member of the Illinois House, one out of 118. And 118 is a pretty big number and one is a pretty small number, and one divided by 118 is a pretty small number. I'm a mathematician."
"In order to make it meaningful, there's a lot of work to do from here on."
When it comes to working hard, supporters at the event said Biss has already established a track record on the campaign trail.
"No one worked harder than that guy," said volunteer Jim Boyle, who has worked on Biss' past two campaigns.
"Last campaign, he lost 17 pounds," Boyle said, adding that Biss looked even thinner this time around.
Supporter Steve Dorfman, who helped with Biss' second campaign after meeting him at an event held by the Democrats of Northfield Township, said Biss stands out for his smarts and "out of the box dedication."
In an election where Republicans won around the country, Biss pointed to President Obama carrying the district in 2008 with 65 percent of the vote and said his own 54 percent share this year could reflect some frustration with the Democrats.
"I do think it's an affirmation that Democratic voters weren't bolting en masse," Biss said. "I believe in the values the Democrats put forth, but I am not of the system that is frustrating."
Campaign manager Karen Nystrom expressed a different perspective on why a Democrat took the 17th District.
"I think it's really all about Daniel," said Nystrom, who met Biss on the campaign trail in 2007. "A lot of this race actually was won in 2007 and 2008."
After four years of campaigning, Biss said he is ready to get to work, promising he will tackle the state's budget problems and fight corruption. Additionally, he said he will work to attract more businesses to Illinois with a payroll tax credit and hopes to create more green jobs:
"What I know for sure that everybody in the district wants—regardless of whom they voted for—is someone who's willing to question and challenge the fundamental assumptions that underlie how things are done in Springfield."