Schilling Considering Special Election for Schock Seat

by Nathan L. Gonzales March 24, 2015 · 1:07 PM EDT

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling hasn’t closed the door on running in the special election to replace embattled Republican Rep. Aaron Schock, according to a knowledgeable GOP source.

State Sen. Darin LaHood of Peoria is the early front-runner in the forthcoming Republican primary, but Schilling represented part of Illinois’ 18th District during his time in Congress and could bring some name identification to the race.

Schilling represented 16 percent of the population of the 18th District in the old 17th District from 2011-12, according to Daily Kos Elections. He lost re-election in 2012 to Democrat Cheri Bustos by 6 points under new lines drawn by Democrats, and he failed in a rematch against the congresswoman last year by 10 points.

Unlike the 17th District, the 18th was drawn by Democrats to be a GOP seat. While that eases the general election contest, winning the primary could be difficult for Schilling. LaHood announced his candidacy less than 24 hours after Schock’s resignation announcement and has worked to consolidate establishment support. LaHood’s father, Ray, represented more than half the district as a Republican in the House from the mid-1990s until he was appointed to President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.

But Darin LaHood is not invulnerable in a shortened race from a challenge by someone with financial resources or name identification.

Former state Rep. Jil Tracy, who is from Quincy on the western edge of the 18th District, could have access to personal money, which could help her overcome an initial name identification deficit. Her husband’s family has a large trucking and food distribution company.

Tracy, who lost a race for lieutenant governor in 2014, made calls to potential donors in Chicago late last week, testing the waters for a potential congressional run, according to local sources.

But GOP sources also said Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is working behind the scenes for LaHood and has offered to gather significant financial support for Tracy if she challenges Democratic state Sen. John Sullivan in 2016 instead of running for Congress.