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Remember Aaron Schock? Killer abs, big “Downton Abbey” fan, resigned in disgrace? On Tuesday, voters in Illinois’s 18th District will decide which nominee should finish the remainder of Schock’s term and perhaps represent them going further.
Out of the goodness of their hearts, Republican leadership wanted to make the choice for Illinois voters. They anointed Darin LaHood, current state senator and son of CD18’s former representative, Ray LaHood. Most recently, dad flaunted his conservative cred by serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation and demanding Congress spend, spend, spend on an endless list of pet projects. LaHood Sr. now works as a lobbyist, of course, so it’s understandable that Speaker Boehner, et al., want his son to be another cog in the profitable Beltway machine.
But another Republican lives in the LaHood Family heirloom, a sprawling Central Illinois district that includes Peoria, Springfield, and Quincy. Mike Flynn is a smart, passionate conservative who decided to challenge the well connected scion and present a choice for his fellow small-government Republicans.
Flynn was the founding editor of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website, was a senior policy director for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, and has advocated for pro-liberty positions in several other state and national roles.
The race was supposed to be a layup for LaHood the Younger, but it hasn’t exactly gone that way. Flynn has been bolstered by endorsements from Mark Levin, Dana Loesch, blogger Ace of Spades, Stephen Moore, and other non-establishment voices. LaHood agreed to highly structured debates in which Flynn roundly thrashed him, creating viral videos and raising much-needed funds. LaHood’s campaign manager went so far as to allegedly assault the debate moderator’s staff. The reporter has filed charges.
Now, disgruntled LaHood staffers are dishing dirt on their own campaign; alleging that Illinois’s governor, Boehner, and the Chamber of Commerce are bending the rules to protect “the chosen one.” The pressure from Washington is intense, but it remains to be seen if it will play in Peoria.
Online conservatives, myself included, are quick to denounce the incestuous and nepotic Beltway establishment, but we’re often slow to take concrete steps to advance our positions. Mike Flynn isn’t just slapping his keyboard and whining about politicians — he’s doing something about it.
You can join him here. I know I will.