The Republican wave that washed over the country on Tuesday swept through the Quad-Cities, too.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, a Republican will go to Congress to represent Rock Island County.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ hold on Iowa’s 1st Congressional District seat was close early today, with unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s website saying there was about 3,800 votes separating Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and GOP challenger Ben Lange with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Braley had already claimed victory after The Associated Press declared him the winner. But Lange said the race was too close and more votes needed to be counted.
Both seats only some months ago were thought to be safely in Democratic hands.
With Republican wins mounting in other parts of the country, the effects of the GOP’s momentum could be felt in varying degrees throughout the Quad-City metro area and up and down the ballot.
Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley cruised to wins statewide, which were reflected in the Quad-Cities.
Republicans also won two open state legislative seats in Scott County, notably Ross Paustian in District 84 in western Scott County. The Democrats won that seat just four years ago.
“I think we did great,” Judy Davidson, the Scott County GOP chair, said late in the evening.
Several Democratic officeholders were victors on both sides of the river, according to unofficial results. But in some cases it was close.
State Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf, for example, won her race but it was by a bare margin.
Scott County Recorder Rita Vargas also won a narrow victory, according to unofficial results.
Republicans won all three Scott County Board races.
Across the river, Republican Bobby Schilling, a pizza shop owner from Colona, raced to a big win in the 23-county 17th Congressional District, defeating two-term incumbent Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill.
It will be the first time since 1982 that a Republican has represented the county in Congress.
In fact, what has for years been some of the most reliably blue territory in Illinois — Rock Island County — blushed beet-red Tuesday in top-of-the-ticket races.
Susie Carpentier, the county GOP chair, was ecstatic.
“I’m just still trying to breathe,” she said late Tuesday, as cheers broke out in the background.
For years, Republicans have talked of a resurgence in Rock Island County.
Tuesday, they finally gained a measure of it.
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Chicago-area Republican, beat Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in Rock Island County in what was a tight race statewide. Kirk was declared the winner.
And Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn — despite delivering millions of dollars in public works aid to the area — lost the county to state Sen. Bill Brady, a Bloomington Republican. That race was too close to call early this morning.
Rich Morthland, a county board member and farmer, captured the District 71 state legislative seat, defeating Democrat Dennis Ahern.
It was the congressional races, however, that were in the spotlight — and the focal point of endless television commercials.
A flood of nearly $4 million in outside spending sloshed into the 17th District race, with much of it aimed at Schilling.
In Iowa’s 1st District, meanwhile, another $2.8 million in outside money, a vast majority of it aimed at Braley, turned a lot of eyes toward the 12-county district.
For weeks, Democrats on both sides of the river knew Hare’s seat was on the bubble.
Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, a friend of Hare’s for 40 years, even worked Rock Island neighborhoods Tuesday morning to help out.
“I support my friends,” he said.
The mayor, a veteran of Quad-City politics, appeared grim early in the day.
About the same time, across town, Schilling, dressed casually in blue jeans, confessed to some nervousness. But he had a wide smile that still shone at the end of the day.
The campaign said it put 400,000 calls into the 17th Congressional District.
“I feel today is payday,” Schilling said early on.
Meanwhile, it looked to be a late night in Quasqueton, where Lange was holed up, and in Waterloo, where Braley’s campaign is based.
“We’re 100 percent in favor of counting all the votes,” said Caitlin Legacki, a Braley spokesperson. “We are confident we will win.”
(Waterloo Courier reporter Josh Nelson contributed to this article.)