Updated at 10:10 p.m. ET
Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., conceded to her Republican challenger Joe Walsh Tuesday after a final tally of absentee ballots showed her coming up 291 votes short of winning a fourth term.
Walsh’s victory means that Republicans have netted at least 61 House seats, with Republican challengers leading in four additional races that are too close to call.
Bean was expected to win re-election comfortably, running against a challenger who received virtually no support from the party establishment. But in a Republican-leaning suburban Chicago district in a Republican year, Walsh was able to capitalize on conservative resentment and Bean’s support of President Obama’s legislative agenda.
Bean had been hoping to catch up to Walsh, from uncounted absentee ballots that weren’t tallied on Election Night – but they weren’t able to turn around her narrow deficit. Although Bean made up some ground earlier in the week from absentee and provisional votes in heavily Democratic Cook County, it wasn’t enough. Lake County, a more Republican area, finished its tally of absentee ballots Tuesday, and sealed Walsh’s victory.
After spending time in Washington for the lame duck session, Bean returned to Illinois Tuesday and will hold a press conference there Wednesday. Walsh has been in Washington for training sessions for new members.
Tim Sahd contributed