Laesch won't concede race

Democratic congressional candidate John Laesch hasn't conceded in Tuesday's regular primary, but his opponent has claimed a slim victory. A Laesch campaign spokesman said Wednesday that absentee ballots need to be counted before his campaign could be certain that Bill Foster had won. About 1 a.m. Wednesday, Foster claimed in a statement that he had won the Democratic nomination for the 14th Congressional District, following close vote totals coming in Tuesday night from the multicounty district. Jim Oberweis won the Republican nomination over state Sen. Chris Lauzen, R-Aurora, in the regular primary and will move on to November's general election. The Laesch campaign said unofficial totals showed Foster with a lead of about 300 votes in the regular primary election. Laesch spokesman Alan Nowakowski said Laesch would discuss the election results at a news conference Friday, but he declined to say whether the candidate would concede or allege problems with the election. Through his spokesman, Laesch declined to comment. "We're really collecting all the information," Nowakowski said, adding that the main issues were absentee ballots and "trying to get accurate numbers." "John is 100 percent committed to having a Democrat in this seat, and equally committed to having all the votes counted," he said. Laesch has conceded to Foster in a special primary also held Tuesday. Foster and Oberweis will face off in a special general election March 8, with the victor filling the seat of former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, until January. Hastert vacated the seat late last year, causing Gov. Rod Blagojevich to call for a pair of special elections. Foster spokesman Andrew Dupuy said Foster had declared victory in both the regular and special primaries. "We consider Bill Foster the victor and are moving forward to running against Jim Oberweis," Dupuy said, adding that he didn't know whether Foster and Laesch were in contact Wednesday. Absentee ballots postmarked no later than Feb. 4 and received by Feb. 19 get counted, said Ken Menzel, an election specialist at the Illinois State Board of Elections. The number of outstanding Democratic absentee ballots ranged from none to a couple of dozen to more than 100 among the counties in the 14th District, according to election officials. It will be several weeks before local and state election authorities finalize official results. Laesch secured the majority of the votes in DeKalb, Henry, Kendall, Lee and Whiteside counties, according to unofficial totals. In addition to winning in Kane County - which represents the majority of votes in the district - Foster won in Aurora and in DuPage County, unofficial totals showed. The Associated Press contributed to this story. Kane County Chronicle Reporter Kate Thayer can be reached at kthayer

Vote Tally

14th Congressional District regular primary (winners run in the November general election)

Republicans Jim Oberweis: 35,484 Chris Lauzen: 25,009 Michael J. Dilger: 1,488

Democrats Bill Foster: 32,072 John Laesch: 31,545 Joe Serra: 5,971 Jotham Stein: 5,787

14th Congressional District special primary (winners run in the March 8 special election to temporarily fill the U.S. House seat left open by Dennis Hastert's retirement)

Republicans Jim Oberweis: 34,472 Chris Lauzen: 27,762

Democrats Bill Foster: 29,048 John Laesch: 23,584 Jotham Stein: 4,553