Saturday, April 26, 2008

LaHood removed lingering doubt and gives Schock his endorsement

Is it really big news that Republican politicians (or those hoping to run for office again in he future) have endorsed GOP wünderkind Aaron Schock? Current 18th District Congressman Ray LaHood attended a press conference to officially endorse Schock, as did LaHood's predecessor, Bob Michel. Also tossing their support to Schock were John Morris and Jim McConoughey, who ran against Schock in the GOP primary.

At first blush, it seems like such a non-story. That Republicans are endorsing the Republican nominee isn't exactly a big surprise.

But, maybe this time it is at least a little bit of a surprise. Believe it or not, there was a bit of a doubt that LaHood would come through with an endorsement for Schock.

There were signs from the start that the sitting Congressman was miffed at Schock for not heeding his advice to wait a while before announcing he was he was going to for the the retiring LaHood's job. It's a certainty that state party bigwigs were annoyed at him for giving up a State House seat that almost certainly will return to the Democrats, and for doing so a few months after they dumped a lot of cash into getting him re-elected.

Then Schock was called out for perhaps violating federal election rules by, among other things, running his Congressional campaign out of the county GOP headquarters where he was renting space.

Also, LaHood was among those who expressed opposition to Schock's position (originally defended, and then excused away as some sort of joke) that the United States ought to give nuclear weapons to Taiwan if Communist China didn't stop arming Iran.

It's also a reality that Schock -- while talking like a moderate back home in Peoria -- talked like a conservative when talking to conservatives, and took a sharp turn to the right in the primary. LaHood, while popular throughout the large, mostly rural 18th District, is nevertheless a moderate who sometimes faces scorn from some of the conservatives Schock has been sucking up to recently.

For these reasons, many observers (including this blog) spent the months preceding the primary election waiting for the shoe to drop and for LaHood to endorse someone other that Schock, probably McConoughey.

But LaHood finally stated that he probably wouldn't make an endorsement, but would keep an eye on the campaigns and how they were being run. I took that statement as a warning to the Schock campaign to keep it clean. Schock gets good press for running clean campaigns, but that's only because Schock's people operate their whisper campaigns under the radar.

I kept hearing during the primary that the senior LaHood feared some sort of retaliation against son Darin LaHood, who is running for Peoria County State's Attorney against Democratic incumbent Kevin Lyons.

But the primary is over, so it's a cinch that LaHood would endorse Schock and be done with it, right? Wrong. Schock's opponent in the Democratic Party is Colleen Callahan, a woman who is well-known throughout the 18th District due to her work as a agriculture reporter. As is well-known now, Callahan once helped organize a fund-raiser for LaHood, who Callahan has praised for his support for Illinois agriculture.

I can only assume that LaHood would be inclined to think favorably about someone who went out of her way to cross party lines to help him raise campaign cash.

One Peoria blogger, Elaine Hopkins, recently said that LaHood was signaling during a recent meeting of the ACLU in Peoria that he might actually toss some electoral love Callahan's direction:

Another notable comment by Rep. LaHood was his referral to the Democratic nominee to replace him in the House as: "a very good and knowledgeable candidate here, in Colleen Callahan". That statement alone might not have been given a second-thought except that he never acknowledged, or even uttered the name of Ms. Callahan's GOP opponent. To several of us attending, it sounded almost like a subtle endorsement of Callahan. Interesting…

That was not to be, however.

Cross posted to Peoria Pundit.


  © Blogger template The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP