Democrats won congressional campaigns in 2006 and 2008 campaigning as moderates. The party fielded candidates with attractive personal stories who did not stray far from the center. One of those candidates was former Mary Kay cosmetics saleswoman Debbie Halvorson, a freshman elected in 2008 in Illinois's Eleventh Congressional District.
This was no ordinary victory. Illinois 11 is a Republican place. Bush won it in 2000 and 2004. Halvorson's predecessor, Republican Jerry Weller, held the seat since 1994 before retiring in 2008. But the GOP trend did not hold in a Democratic year, with Illinois's own Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Obama defeated McCain 53 percent to 45 percent. Halvorson defeated her Republican opponent, businessman Marty Ozinga, 58 percent to 34 percent.