Wednesday, March 18, 2015

So much for the dream of “Gov. Schock,” which withered away more quickly than ‘Mayor Jackson’

I was as stunned as anyone could be when I learned Tuesday that Aaron Schock had chosen to give up his seat in Congress representing Peoria and other parts of central Illinois.

Of course, I had read the many stories that had cropped up about such offenses as having his Congressional office redecorated in an overly nancy-boy manner and about the trips to New York by he and his staff that were supposedly paid for out of government accounts.

IT ALL STRUCK me as too trivial to think of in a way that would warrant federal investigators to come in and contemplate criminal charges. More like the kind of material that would lead to snickering about Schock behind his back.

But now there is speculation by some people (most of whom are determined to believe the worst) about whether there is some other potential crisis that could crop up – something so severe that he would want to get out now.

Which may be why Schock chose Tuesday to resign his congressional post – likely bringing to an end any political aspirations he (or others) might have had for him.

Those people who figured he’d someday be the Republican nominee for governor of Illinois? It probably ain’t gonna happen now.

SO MUCH FOR the man who, at age 33, already had served six years in the House of Representatives, along with a stretch previously in the Illinois House of Representatives.

That legislative post was something he got elected to at age 23, after also having served on a high school board of education in Peoria prior to that.

The fact that Schock got such an early start in electoral politics (people in their late 30s to early 40s are more typical of first-time office holders) is why some people thought he was destined to be a future governor. By the time he would be ready age-wise to run for such a post, he’d have so much in the way of government experience.

He’d have quite the political resume!

INSTEAD, BY THE time he hits his early 50s (which was about the age Rahm Emanuel was at when he was elected mayor, while new Gov. Bruce Rauner is 58), Schock is likely to be a long-forgotten pol, perhaps remembered like some choose to remember Carol Moseley-Braun!

Maybe we’ll remember that Downton Abbey-inspired congressional office and think it was some sort of political joke?

It may well be that starting out too early in electoral politics can turn out to be a negative – it certainly didn’t turn out to be a plus for Jesse Jackson, Jr.

The civil rights activist’s son got elected to Congress at age 30 and represented that far South Side/suburban district for 17 years. He had all the speculation that he would someday try to become mayor, or perhaps a U.S. senator. Remember the speculation that he tried to “buy” the post from then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich when Barack Obama became president?

NOW I’M NOT claiming Schock did anything that ought to be regarded as illegal. Just pointing out that the political downfall of Jackson (who turned 50 last Wednesday while still serving a federal prison term) is what came to mind when I heard about Schock.

Yet another pol destined for great things whose actual career will wind up falling far short of what was expected. They flamed out before they could achieve the ultimate political goal.

Which makes me wonder if perhaps the ultimate young pol is someone like Tom Dart, the Cook County sheriff. As a reporter-type person, I have known Dart since he was an assistant state’s attorney at the Cook County courthouse in suburban Markham.

He then went to the state Legislature at age 29, where he served for 12 years before coming back home. There was an unsuccessful bid for state treasurer and his contemplation of running for mayor back in 2011 – although he has been sheriff since 2006.

MAYBE SOMEDAY HE’LL shoot for that top political post; probably if Emanuel were to actually be knocked out and he could run in ’19 against a ‘Mayor Garcia.’

Or maybe his personal restraint on political ambition could be what keeps him from doing something in the future that would cause him to whither away and die like Schock and Jackson did?


EDITOR’S NOTE: I want to know what becomes of the Aaron Schock congressional office once he steps down March 31 – and how quickly will the future occupant go out of his/her way to redecorate it into some drab, dreary space that truly reflects the government bureaucratic mentality?

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