Will Schilling Become a 2-State Rep?

By Jim Ellis

Republican Bobby Schilling

May 14, 2019 — In a dozen instances throughout American history a person has been elected to the House of Representatives from one state, departed Congress for whatever reason, moved to another domain, and then won an additional congressional election, or elections, from the adopted place.

Republican Bobby Schilling served one term in the House from western Illinois’ 17th District, losing his re-election bid in 2012. Relocating across the Mississippi River to Iowa in 2017, former Representative Schilling is reportedly looking to make a political comeback. It is expected that he will soon announce his candidacy for the Hawkeye State’s open 2nd Congressional District.

If the ex-Illinois representative were to win the Iowa seat, he would become the 13th person in American history to represent two different states in the House of Representatives. It last occurred when former Texas congressman, Ed Foreman (R), won a New Mexico US House seat in the 1968 election. Prior to that, the two-state switch had only happened one other time since the turn of the 20th Century.

Interestingly, the same number of individuals, 12, have represented two states by serving first in the House, moving, and then winning a Senate seat from the secondary place. The most famous of these is Sam Houston, who served in the House from Tennessee and as governor before helping found Texas as a country and state, and then subsequently serving as its president and US senator, respectively.

Schilling, a local restaurant owner, first won his Quad Cities anchored seat in the Republican landslide year of 2010, defeating then-two-term Rep. Phil Hare (D-Rock Island). But, in a redistricting year from a process the Democrats controlled, and with President Obama running for re-election at the top of his home state ballot in 2012, Schilling was unable to politically survive in the more Democratic district.

Obama’s strong electoral performance coupled with a viable opponent in Cheri Bustos, who is now the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair and at the time an East Moline City Council member, would lead to Rep. Schilling losing his post, 53-47 percent. He would return for a re-match in 2014 and, despite the year being favorable for Republicans, Schilling lost to Rep. Bustos, 55-45 percent.

At least for the Republican nomination in his new Iowa district, Schilling’s early chances look promising. The only person to so far announce for either party is Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley (R), but his political base is small, lies across the district from the major population centers, and he hails from a city of fewer than 5,000 residents.

The seat is open because six-term Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) has already announced that he will not seek re-election next year. While no Democrat has yet come forward, several are expected to run in a district that is the state’s most favorable to their party.

Though Rep. Loebsack has won several competitive elections with relative ease, his win percentage has generally fallen in the low 50s, and President Trump carrying this seat in 2016 with a 49-45 percent margin suggests that IA-2 could become highly competitive as a contested open seat.

The 2nd District occupies Iowa’s southeast quadrant, with Davenport being its largest city. Bettendorf, another of the Quad Cities, is also included before the 2nd then travels south down the Mississippi River to encompass the cities of Burlington and Keokuk along the Illinois and Missouri borders. The district next expands north to the Iowa City region and west as far as Osceola, well south of the Des Moines metro area.

Though this open congressional race has seen a relatively slow developing candidate field, largely because Rep. Loebsack’s retirement announcement was unexpected, the contest will likely become a battleground congressional race come Election Day 2020 and, if Schilling runs and wins, would become part of American political history.

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