Republican Jim Oberweis declared victory over freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood about 24 hours after polls closed, but a week later, media outlets projected Underwood would win the race after mail-in ballots were tallied.
But that projection didn’t stop Oberweis from getting used to what he believes will soon be his new surroundings at an orientation session Friday for new Congress members.
Oberweis posted a photo on his Facebook page showing him with Republican Mary Miller, who was recently elected to represent Illinois’ 15th District. Oberweis also toured the White House, even stopping to take a selfie with former President Ronald Reagan’s portrait.
Travis Akin, a spokesperson for Oberweis’ congressional campaign, said the Sugar Grove state senator and businessman is exploring all legal options, including a recount once election results are certified, the Daily Herald reports.
The orientation is only held once before each legislative session, so Oberweis attended in case he prevails after a recount, Akin said. Though the Associated Press and other outlets have called the race, Akin characterized it as “closely contested” on Friday.
“This has been on the schedule for weeks, and he was encouraged to attend because they only do this the one time,” Akin told the Daily Herald. “There were other candidates there in similar situations of closely contested races.”
Oberweis declared victory Nov. 4, saying “it appears that I have won a tough-fought campaign.” At that time, he held a lead of less than 1,000 votes with thousands of mail-in ballots still to be counted.
Underwood ate into Oberweis’ lead over the following weeks as ballots were tallied, and on Thursday, the Associated Press declared her the victor.
Unofficial election results show Underwood gained 50.6 percent of the vote, with over 200,000 ballots cast in her favor. Oberweis earned 196,034 votes, of 49.4 percent.