Republican Rodney Davis narrowly defeated Democrat Dr. David Gill to win the 13th Congressional District seat in central Illinois.
As election day wound to a close Tuesday, Davis was as much as 10,000 votes ahead. But Gill began closing the gap as the last few precincts were counted. In the end, Gill lost by fewer than 1,300 votes.
The three-way race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson included Davis, a longtime congressional aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus; Gill, an emergency-room doctor and advocate of single-payer health care; and Madison County businessman John Hartman, running as an independent.
With all 609 precincts reporting, the vote totals were:
Rodney Davis: 136,596 or 47 percent.
David Gill: 135,309, or 46 percent.
John Hartman: 21,241, or 7 percent.
Davis did not make a public statement by press time Tuesday. Spokesman Patrick Pfingsten said they were "cautiously optimistic," with numbers appearing to be in Davis' favor.
Gill could not be reached for comment.
Hartman said he felt the people who voted for him would otherwise have split evenly between Davis and Gill, so he did not feel his participation changed the results.
"I think it was more the outside money coming in and the massive negative advertising," Hartman said. "I wish there was a way for independents and the people running on the issues to get more consideration; (voters are) stuck with a political system with two parties that they don't like, and we can't seem to get beyond that."
Johnson had announced his retirement three weeks after defeating two challengers in the March primary, and Davis was chosen by Republican leaders in the counties of the new 13th District. Gill fought a close primary battle that dragged on in the courts for weeks before he could turn his campaign to the general election.
The race was marked with outside interests; more than $2 million in outside funding was spent on both sides, including $500,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in negative ads against Gill and $10,747 from the Service Employees International Union against Davis.
The ads got particularly brutal, inspiring Johnson to publicly chastise both candidates for "a cesspool of negativity." One of the most recent, paid for by the American Action Network, depicted Gill as Dr. Frankenstein electrocuting a teddy bear.
The new 13th District includes Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville and part of Collinsville.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at email@example.com or 239-2501.