By: Andrew J. Englund
As a member of the 18th Congressional District in Illinois, I felt the need to write about the resignation of Congressman Aaron Schock, effective March 31, 2015. Don’t expect a strong conservative to take the seat in the special election. I do not want to see a carpet bagger run for the 18th district seat. There are qualified conservatives in the district, however an Illinois and national establishment Republican will likely win the seat and will hold it until he chooses to retire or is forced to resign.
I voted for Aaron Schock in 2012 and 2014. I was a part of the 17th Congressional District before the 2011 redistricting and I happily voted for Bobby Schilling in 2010. I was not yet 18 for the 2008 election. I voted for Schock because I believed that his youth would be a welcoming change in Washington D.C. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. As with so many others, he went to D.C. with the intention of changing D.C. and D.C. changed him. The corruption, money, and power in D.C. was far too appealing for Schock. Schock never faced a strong primary challenge, in the 2008 primary he received 72% of the vote and did not have a challenger in 2010, 2012, or 2014. He handily and easily won his general election campaigns: 59% in 2008, 69% in 2010, 74% in 2012, and 74% in 2014.
Illinois 18 is a safe GOP seat, according to the Cook PVI it is R+11. It has been in Republican hands since 1939. Jessie Sumner held the seat from 1939-1947. Edward Jenison held the seat from 1947-1949. Harold Velde held the sea from 1949-1957. Robert Michel held the seat from 1957-1995, serving as House Minority Leader for 14 of those years. Ray LaHood held the seat from 1995-2009 and served as Obama’s Secretary of Transportation from 2009 to 2013. For Ray LaHood’s elections he won 60% in 1994, 59% in 1996, 100% in 1998, 67% in 2000, 100% in 2002, 70% in 2004, and 67% in 2006.
The seat is safe, now is the chance for the constituents of Illinois 18 to choose a conservative. Illinois 18 has not had a consistent conservative in the seat. Aaron Schock has a 75% American Conservative Union (ACU) lifetime rating, with a 52% rating in 2013. In his freshman year (2009) he had an ACU rating of 92%, he had a promising start. Ray LaHood has a 70% ACU lifetime rating, with a 36% rating in his final year (2008).
Schock’s frivolous spending end extravagant lifestyle is common knowledge. He ignored his constituency and focused on self-promotion. He had potential, however he fell into the swamp that is Washington D.C. and was unable to rise above that swamp. I still like Schock as an individual, but I am glad that he will no longer be my congressman. In his resignation statement, he said that he had become a distraction for the district. A truer statement has never been spoken. Thank You Congressman Schock for recognizing that you were a distraction, you had to leave.
Now onto his replacement. According to the Chicago Tribune, State Senator Darin LaHood has stated that he will run for Schock’s seat. Darin LaHood is the son of Former Congressman Ray LaHood. LaHood would not be a new face for the district. Illinois 18 deserves better than to replace Schock with his predecessor’s son. Darin LaHood does have a 100% rating in the 2013 ACU State Legislative Ratings. Former state Representative and former Lt. Governor Nominee Jil Tracy is also considering a run for the seat. Tracy has a 90% ACU rating in the 2013 ratings. Tracy would be a far better choice for the district than LaHood. She remembers her constituents and works hard for them. Tracy will have to overcome the name-recognition and political machinery advantage that LaHood will have. If Tracy runs and if she wins she would be a strong conservative voice for the 18th district.