Mike Bost Illinois
Mike Bost, a Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives and a 2014 Republican candidate for the U.S. House, is seen campaigning in an Aug. 30 photo. Facebook/Mike Bost

Republican candidate Mike Bost Tuesday won the U.S. House of Representative seat for Southern Illinois’ 12th Congressional District. Bost, a state representative since 1995, ousted Democratic incumbent Bill Enyart in a tightly contested race.

The Associated Press and other media outlets declared Bost the winner, with 55 percent of precincts reporting. Bost is the first Republican in 70 years to serve the 12-county area, the Belleville News Democrat newspaper noted.

Enyart, a lawyer and former adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, had represented Southern Illinois’ 12th Congressional District since 2012. In his freshman year in Congress, he served on the House agriculture and armed services committees and voted with his party nearly 90 percent of the time. He opposed President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Bost, who also has a military background, advocated for policies to boost agricultural and military defense spending and to encourage more oil- and natural-gas drilling in the United States. The candidate was perhaps best known nationally for his impassioned speeches on the state House floor, including a 2012 rant on a concealed weapons bills.

Enyart used footage of those outbursts in television campaign ads and called Bost “Meltdown Mike.” Overall, the Enyart campaign raised more than $1.7 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and promised to support workers’ rights, veterans’ affairs and public education policy.

Bost’s campaign tried to use those ads to his advantage, saying that his fits of rage showed his frustrations with Democrats, the Washington newspaper Roll Call reported. The Republican contender raised slightly more than $1 million for the race and earned the backing of Crossroads GPS, the political nonprofit founded by Karl Rove.