Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-IL-18) resignation announcement Tuesday, at least for now, ends an impressive upstart political career. Winning a local school board post in a write-in campaign at age 19, Schock became the youngest public official in the state. Four years later, he ran for the state House of Representatives and defeated a long-term incumbent. At age 27, he became the youngest member of Congress in 2009.
However, after a plethora of news stories written consistently during the past two weeks detailed financial reimbursement improprieties over his federal expenses, Rep. Schock announced that he would leave Congress effective March 31. Though his unforced errors have sent him packing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make a future political comeback.
Once Schock officially leaves office, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) will have five days to schedule the replacement election. The nominating and general elections must all occur within a 115-day period from the time of scheduling. This means the special general will likely be placed on or about July 28, with the closed party primary elections somewhere on or around June 23.
The 18th District is solidly Republican, as evidenced by Mitt Romney’s 61-37 percent win here over President Obama in the last national election. The seat has been in Republican hands consecutively since 1939. Former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R) represented this district for 38 years. During his one term in the House, Abraham Lincoln’s 7th District included some of the territory in the current version of IL-18.
The swiftness of Schock’s announcement caught most people by surprise, particularly after saying earlier in the week that he wouldn’t resign. Time will be required for potential candidates to examine their prospects.
For the Republicans, two-term state Sen. Darin LaHood, son of former Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL-18) who later became transportation secretary under President Obama, is already being mentioned as a potential candidate. Though the LaHood name is well known in the district because Ray LaHood represented most of this territory for seven terms, the state senator represents only part of Peoria County and just two more of the current district’s 19 counties. His father’s joining the Obama Administration did not sit well with some local Republican primary voters, and it remains to be seen if the younger LaHood will indirectly suffer to any significant degree.
Former GOP gubernatorial nominee and state senator, Bill Brady, is so far quiet about his plans. His brother, businessman Ed Brady, the former chairman of the gubernatorial campaign and in line to chair the National Association of Home Builders during the presidential election year, may be the more likely candidate, however.
A crowded field is sure to form, so this will be an action-packed special election with the eventual Republican nominee taking the seat in late July.
Remaining in the Land of Lincoln, the rubber match of a three-campaign series between Rep. Bob Dold (R) and former Rep. Brad Schneider (D) is now set to occur. Schneider announced yesterday that he will attempt to reclaim the seat he lost last November, after defeating Dold in 2012.
The situation is similar to the re-matches held between Rep. Frank Guinta (R) and former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) in the 1st District of New Hampshire. There is a chance a fourth such contest could occur between these two in 2016.
The Illinois Democratic legislature originally drew the new 10th District to defeat Republican Dold, and the plan succeeded in 2012. His return 2014 effort took advantage of the lower mid-term turnout and a superior campaign, thus turning the tables on what happened two years earlier. The large presidential year turnout model for favorite son Barack Obama cut very badly for Dold, and was the underlying reason for his defeat.
Though turnouts will be higher in 2016 than last November, the Democrats’ nominating a person other than Obama could depress the Illinois party turnout to some degree, in comparison to when the president was on the ballot. Since the two Dold-Schneider campaigns have been very close, any slight advantage could tip the political scale in either direction.