The stunning news Tuesday that Republican Rep. Aaron Schock would resign his seat amid a mounting scandal has already launched speculation about who will succeed him in Illinois's 18th District (Peoria-Springfield).
To a person, sources from the Prairie State who spoke to Newsmax hours after Schock's announcement agreed that his likely successor was another Republican who is heir to one of the most familiar names in the district: State Sen. Darin LaHood, son of Ray LaHood, who held the House seat from 1994 to 2008 and was U.S. secretary of transportation in President Barack Obama's first term.
"Darin starts at second base," Terry Campo, longtime Illinois conservative activist and one-time national chairman of the Young Republicans, told Newsmax. "I just can't see anyone mounting a start-up campaign against him."
To hints that a primary opponent might use the elder LaHood's service under Obama against a bid by Darin LaHood, Campo replied: "In Washington, Ray may be known as 'Barack Obama's secretary of transportation,' but in the 18th District, he's still known as 'Bob Michel's chief of staff' [Michel, still-beloved in the Peoria area, held the district from 1956-94 and served as House GOP leader in the final fourteen years of his tenure]."
Where Michel and the elder LaHood preached cordial relations with Democrats across the House aisle, Darin LaHood, Campo told us, "is more conservative than either of them. He's been an ally of [just-elected GOP] Gov. [Bruce] Rauner on his fight to reform pensions for public employees and he is also pushing for putting a statue of Ronald Reagan in the state capitol. That sounds pretty good to me."
The exodus of Schock, 33, came suddenly following continuing stories of whether he used tax dollars for decorating his office in the mold of TV's "Downton Abbey" and how he spent lavishly from campaign funds on hotels and dinners.
Aside from LaHood, the only Republican mentioned to run in a yet-to-be-called special election is DeMetra DeMonte, secretary of the Republican National Committee and Republican National Committeewoman from Illinois.
Under state election, Gov. Rauner has five days upon the resignation of a congressman — that is, when the vacancy occurs — to set a date within 115 days to hold a special election. Schock's resignation takes effect at the end of March.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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