1998 United States Senate election in Illinois

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1998 United States Senate election in Illinois

← 1992 November 3, 1998 2004 →
  Peter Fitzgerald cropped.jpg Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.jpg
Nominee Peter Fitzgerald Carol Moseley Braun
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,709,042 1,610,496
Percentage 50.4% 47.4%

Illinois Senate Election Results by County, 1998.svg
Results by county
     40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
     40-50%      50–60%      60–70%

U.S. Senator before election

Carol Moseley Braun

Elected U.S. Senator

Peter Fitzgerald

The 1998 United States Senate election in Illinois was held November 3, 1998. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun decided to run for re-election, despite the number of controversies that she had in her first term. Republican State Senator Peter Fitzgerald won his party's primary with a slim margin of victory.

Fitzgerald won with a margin of victory of approximately 3%. He won all but five counties, and became the only Republican Senate candidate to defeat a Democratic incumbent in 1998.

Major candidates[edit]




During Moseley Braun's first term as U.S. Senator, she was plagued by several major controversies. Moseley Braun was the subject of a 1993 Federal Elections Commission investigation over $249,000 in unaccounted-for campaign funds. The agency found some small violations, but took no action against Moseley Braun, citing a lack of resources. Moseley Braun only admitted to bookkeeping errors. The Justice Department turned down two requests for investigations from the IRS.[1]

In 1996, Moseley Braun made a private trip to Nigeria, where she met with dictator Sani Abacha. Despite U.S. sanctions against that country, due to Abacha's actions, the Senator did not notify, nor register her trip with, the State Department. She subsequently defended Abacha's human rights records in Congress.[2]

Peter Fitzgerald, a State Senator, won the Republican primary, defeating Illinois Comptroller Loleta Didrickson with 51.8% of the vote, to Didrickson's 48.2%.[3] Fitzgerald spent nearly $7 million in the Republican primary.[4] He had a major financial advantage, as he was a multimillionaire. He ended up spending $12 million in his election victory.[5]

In September, Moseley Braun created controversy again by using the word Nigger to describe how she claims to be a victim of racism.[5]

Most polls over the first few months showed Moseley-Braun trailing badly. However, after she was helped in the final month by notable Democrats such as First Lady Hillary Clinton and U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, three polls published in the last week showed her within the margin of error, and, in one poll, running even with Fitzgerald.[6]


The incumbent Moseley Braun was narrowly defeated by Republican Peter Fitzgerald. Moseley Braun only won five of Illinois's 102 counties. Despite this, the race was kept close by Moseley running up massive margins in Cook County, home of Chicago. However it wasn't quite enough to win. Fitzgerald would only serve one term in the senate. Fitzgerald initially intended to run for a second term.

However, after many Republicans and Democrats announced their intentions to run, Fitzgerald decided to retire. Fitzgerald would serve from January 3, 1999 to January 3, 2005. On January 3, 2005, Fitzgerald was replaced by Democrat Barack Obama.

Illinois United States Senate election, 1998[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Peter Fitzgerald 1,709,041[8] 50.35%[8] +7.4%
Democratic Carol Moseley Braun (incumbent) 1,610,496[8] 47.44%[8] -5.6%
Reform Don Torgersen 74,704[8] 2.20%[8] 0.00%
US Taxpayers Raymond Stalker 280[8] 0.01%[8] 0.00%
Majority 98,545 2.91% 0.00%
Turnout 3,394,521
Republican gain from Democratic Swing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Slate, Is Carol Moseley-Braun a Crook?", February 19, 2003
  2. ^ NPR, "2004 Democratic Presidential Candidates: Carol Moseley Braun", Npr.org, May 6, 2003
  3. ^ Election Results: General Primary - 3/17/1998, Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  4. ^ "Moseley-Braun's Rich Foe May Be Surprisingly Strong". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. March 19, 1998. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Archives: Chicago Tribune - Senator Apologizes For Epithet Moseley-Braun Uses Slur In Calling Columnist Racist". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. September 8, 1998. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Belluck, Pam (November 3, 1998). "THE 1998 CAMPAIGN - ILLINOIS - Moseley-Braun, Trailing, Pushes Hard". Illinois: Nytimes.com. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  7. ^ Pear, Robert (November 4, 1998). "THE 1998 ELECTIONS - STATE BY STATE - MIDWEST - ILLINOIS". Illinois: Nytimes.com. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h =GE&ElectionID=11&SearchType =OfficeSearch&OfficeID=1305&QueryType =Office& Illinois State Board of Elections Ballots Cast for U.S. Senator 11/3/1998 Archived 2017-11-07 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved October 17, 2015.