Sunday, August 05, 2007

It's official: Aaron Schock is running for Congress

I'm surprised, but I'm not surprised.

There was a part some of me that thought, "Ya know. Even someone as ambitious as State Rep. Aaron Schock has got to think that there are a lot of voters out there who just don't think someone as young as he is ought to be in Congress."

But then there is a BIGGER part of my brain that says. "Of course he was going to run. What was he going to do instead? Serve another 20 years in Springfield waiting for some other guy to retire so he can have his turn?" No, Schock is all about not waiting for his turn. He knows politics isn't about sharing and playing nice. It's about winning and not being afraid of losing.

So as soon as it was official that Ray LaHood wasn't going to see re-election for the 18th District seat in the House, Schock was on the phone scooping up endorsements. Why wait? Is he qualified? Well, he meets the official qualifications, but the only un-official qualification is whether or not voters will vote for him. Voters didn't care much about his youth and inexperience when he won a write-in campaign for school at District 150. And his youth and inexperience didn't matter when he defeated an incumbent to win a seat in the General Assembly and again when he beat a city council member who was backed by the Speaker of the House.

So, yeah. I'm gonna have to say that unless the still-popular Bob Michel comes out of retirement, Schock is the one to beat for the nomination.

If you listen to conventional wisdom, that means Schock is going to be out new Congressman because history shows that the 18th is a lock for the GOP. However, a case can be made that the 18th District's reputation as a GOP stronghold is overblown because of circumstances. LaHood's only serious foe was G. Douglas Stephens, an attorney who earlier had failed to beat Michel. No one else could even be considered a serious candidate. And in all fairness to Ray LaHood, he worked his ass off to service all 20 counties in the district.

Despite Schock's rep as campaigner, I think he's beatable in the general election. Consider that Ricca Slone (the incumbent Democrat he beat for the State House) was unpopular even in her own party because of a perceived (and somewhat exaggerated) reputation for lack of service to her district. She also failed to mend fences with the old guard in her own party, who remained ticked-off at her for defeating Don Saltzman in the primary. And while I consider Bill Spears a friend, his candidacy failed because he decided to let Speaker Mike Madigan run things. The campaign took too long to start advertising, and when they did, they was often unoriginal copies of commercials they were running across the state for other candidates.

But this time, there are a lot of strong, experienced Democratic politicians considering a run, many with ties outside Peoria. And one would think that without an incumbent in the race, the Democrats at the national level will finally make an effort to field a good candidate with plenty of financial and tactical support (both of which were pretty much denied Stephens)

Therefore, I think it's far from certain that Schock or any Republican will win. Yes, the district has gone GOP since before World War 1. But there's a lot of stuff up in the air right now. The GOP at the state and national level is reeling from losses. Nationally, the GOP is saddled with perhaps the most unpopular president ever. In Illinois, we've got perhaps the worst governor in the nation, but Democratic voters proved in 2006 that they just don't care as lost as they get theirs. And depending on what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald does, we might even have Pat Quinn as governor in 2008.

Cross Posted to Peoria Pundit.

4 comments:

Anonymous,  4:29 PM  

Illinois State Rep. Aaron Shock is more than qualified to run for Congress than most. In fact, outside of Sen. John Sullivan, Shock is more experienced than anyone else mentioned thus far. Not only is Shock experienced, he can raise the necessary funds to win. Shock may be just a young man, but it is a mistake to sell him short.

Roy Hobbs 9:27 AM  

I commend Schock for running, and for being involved in public service. It beats hiding behind a blog and offering opinions on everything.

Anonymous,  10:39 AM  

Barack and Shock don't find much time to meet political constituents their districts. Or frankly have much regard for them if they are going to run for bigger offices immediatley after being elected.

What next, Shock for President?

nicodemus 4:56 AM  

The only Democrat who can win this congressional seat is Bill "Deadly" Edley. He is tough, smart, he thinks independently, and he has some money too. He is an experienced campaigner with high name ID and contacts. Bill is very electable. So Aaron is going to have his work cut out for him. "Age and treachery always overcome youth and skill"

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