LaHood, Brady could run to succeed Schock – Chicago Tribune

Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Republican state Sen. Darin LaHood said he’s interested in running in the special election to succeed U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock and could decide as soon as Wednesday.

The son of Ray LaHood, a former Peoria congressman and U.S. transportation secretary, said it’s a sad day for the Peoria-area congressional district and that Schock’s quick resignation took him by surprise.

“It was very, very sudden. And I’ve been getting a lot of encouragement to look at the seat and to run for the 18th District,” LaHood, of Dunlap, said at the Capitol in Springfield. “I need to evaluate that with my family and my friends, but getting a lot of encouragement. I’ll have a formal decision tomorrow on that.”

Also interested in the special election in the heavily Republican congressional district is state Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington. And state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, who ran for Illinois governor three times, said he “won’t say no” at this point to a potential congressional bid.

Schock’s resignation becomes official March 31, and once that happens, the governor will call a special election for Schock’s Illinois district.

State law requires the governor to set the date for a special election within five days. Primary and general elections would be held, and by law the congressional seat must be filled within 120 days.

The district stretches from Bloomington on the east through Peoria to Quincy on the west. It’s an overwhelmingly Republican district after a redistricting that took place after the 2010 census.

Barickman says he is considering a run but needs to discuss it with his family.

“I think today is a reminder of the tremendous responsibility we all have as public officials, for the trust that we are given by the people we are asked to represent. So in that context, I think many of us are both stunned by today’s news but disappointed in the set of circumstances that led to today,” he said.

“In the context of what’s next, I think we first need to see what the process is. As I understand it there’s a special election soon. But this is something that I’ll consider in the context I need to discuss it with my family, we have a young family at home, I want to discuss it with them and discuss it with my supporters and then I’ll make a decision from there.”

The LaHood name is very well known in Peoria, which is the center of the district.

“Listen, this is a district that’s a very Republican district,” LaHood said. “There will be a lot of qualified people that want to get involved in it. I don’t take anything for granted. But I will stand on my record in my four years in the state Senate and the work I did for my constituents, but this is a large district, 19 counties. Five of my counties are currently included in that, but I don’t take anything for granted.”

Brady, best known for narrowly losing the governor’s race to Democrat Pat Quinn in 2010, has some name recognition.

“Obviously, anytime something like this comes down this way, it’s a tragedy and it’s just not a good thing,” Brady said. “But we’ll make the most of it and make sure we get a strong Republican to fill that vacancy.”

Asked if he plans to be that Republican, Brady replied: “I have been asked that, and I am flattered by people who say I should. And I am not going to say no, but I am going to tell you that I really enjoy my job as a state senator, especially now with a Republican governor. I am very happy where I’m at, but I am not going to say no.

“It depends on what names emerge, and some considering are my good friends. We’ll see. I’ve been around the circuit. It won’t take me long to decide,” Brady added.

Also Tuesday, Illinois Republicans wasted little time distancing themselves from Schock after his resignation in the midst of questions about his travel and office expenses.

The ethics questions were not lost on Republicans back home, including Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider.

“Honesty and integrity are of utmost importance when serving the public,” Schneider said in a statement. “Today is an unfortunate day for the people of the 18th Congressional District, the state of Illinois and the Illinois Republican Party.”

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who didn’t always get along with Schock, was brief.

“This is a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District,” the governor said in a statement his office released.

The tension between Schock and Rauner stemmed from Schock’s exploration of a run for Illinois governor. Schock accused Rauner of being behind TV and radio ads running in the Peoria market critical of Schock’s vote for a measure that ended the so-called fiscal cliff by boosting federal taxes on wealthier Americans. Rauner has said he has nothing to do with the ads.

Schock opted not to run for governor and Rauner won last fall. The two apparently had patched things up enough that Schock had a small role in the Illinois inauguration ceremony in January.

State Rep. David Leitch, a Peoria Republican who said he recruited Schock to run for the Illinois House more than a decade ago, said he was surprised by the resignation.

“My sense was he probably had sufficient political strength to continue,” said Leitch, who indicated he has not spoken to Schock in several years. “At the same time, it was obvious that more and more questions were arising about different aspects of his public service. It will be interesting to learn more about his decision.”

“I think it’s very sad that a person with that much ability has inflicted so much damage on himself,” Leitch added.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked to weigh in on Schock’s resignation. The mayor, President Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff, noted that Schock opposed Obamacare.

“I would say he was wrong for the future of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

Illinois has had special congressional elections three times in recent years in which candidates faced the challenge of quickly ramping up campaign efforts.

In late 2007, former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert resigned about a year after losing the House to the Democrats. In an upset, Democrat Bill Foster defeated Republican Jim Oberweis in the special election in the spring and then held the seat that fall in a rematch.

In late 2008, then-Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel resigned effective Jan. 2 to become Obama’s White House chief of staff. Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley emerged from a crowded Democratic primary and went on to win the general election in the 5th Congressional District in spring 2009.

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