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ABC News: Obama's Former Senate Seat Goes Republican

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Republican Congressman Mark Kirk will defeat Democrat State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the bitterly-contested race for the Illinois senate seat that launched Barack Obama to the White House, ABC News is projecting.

For Republicans, a victory in the Land of Lincoln represents a symbolic trophy in their efforts to wrest control of Congress from Democrats. The race had been fraught with claims of dishonesty on both sides, leading to an exceptionally high level of distaste for both candidates, according to preliminary exit polls.

The outcome would have been inconceivable just two years ago as Democrats watched their favorite son carry the state by 25 points to win the presidency, and the party sweep Republicans from every statewide office.

Throughout the campaign, Giannoulias had to defend himself against attacks on his credibility, particularly because the bank his family owned collapsed and because of the bank's alleged ties to mobsters. For his part, Kirk confronted persistent questions about whether he exaggerated his military record in the Navy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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