Thursday, September 10, 2015

EXTRA: Illinois gets new member of Congress, not that it’s a surprise

Nobody in metro Chicago was called upon to do their civic duty and cast a ballot on this Election Day, yet the Illinois congressional delegation got a change on Thursday.

LaHOOD: The new congressman
Voters in the central Illinois-based congressional district centered around Peoria (or at least as centered as anything is in a heavily-gerrymandered political world) were asked to pick someone to finish out the end of the term of Aaron Schock.

REMEMBER HIM? THE wunderkid whom we once thought would be a Republican candidate for governor, but now faces a criminal indictment in the U.S. District Court for central Illinois!

Thursday was the day for the special election that saw Republican Darin LaHood predictably leading Rob Mellon, a Democrat, in a congressional district that has such GOP political leanings that it was the July primary amongst LaHood and two other candidates that was the real election.

Anyway, Illinois has a new person in Congress – yet one who follows one of the oldest of political traditions. Nepotism. LaHood is the son of one-time Congressman and Transportation secretary Ray LaHood.

Or as one-time newspaper columnist Mike Royko might have put it, Ray LaHood begat Darin. Which means the next time some Republican political hack tries to claim that all Democrats are nothing more than families passing along their power to the next generation, there is something to throw back in their faces.

ALTHOUGH ANYONE WHO objectively looks at the situation ought to realize that ideological leanings don’t always get passed along.

LaHOOD: The man who begat Darin
Ray LaHood was the guy who served in Congress during the overly-partisan era of Newt Gingrich as House Speaker, yet always tried to behave in a more conciliatory and non-partisan manner.

Similar to his mentor, former House Speaker Bob Michel (for whom Ray was a chief of staff).

It is what made Ray LaHood a pick of Barack Obama when the president put together his cabinet and decided he wanted a taste of bipartisanship. Which is how Ray got the transportation secretary post that he held for a few years before retiring as a public servant.

NOT THAT WE should think Darin will keep up such a bipartisan trend. His voting record in the Illinois Senate (the post he held, and gave up to run in Thursday’s special election) is more traditional Republican.

MADIGAN: Also differs with her father
And he made a point of talking during the campaign cycle about how much more conservative he is than papa Ray.

Some might think that’s just talk. But it is possible for stances to change with the passage of power to a new generation. My own thoughts on this come to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and daughter Lisa (a.k.a., the Illinois attorney general).

Madigan, as in Mr. Speaker, was always the kind of guy who was a Democrat because of his support for organized labor. He can be a force for them to use.

BUT PEOPLE WHO bring up social issues from a liberal perspective can tell you tales of getting the perpetual run-around from Madigan, who will want to be overly cautious before pushing such measures up for a vote.

By comparison, the Madigan daughter is a more liberal-minded person on those social issues. A part of me would like to someday hear the two of them go at it (the speaker against, the A.G. for) on abortion. It could be as feisty a fight as any we’ve ever heard between a Planned Parenthood official and a Bible-thumpin’ preacher-man.

MADIGAN: Has his critics
Could the LaHoods be the Republican counterpart for Illinois political observers?

So here’s wondering what kind of Congressman Darin LaHood will make as he follows his father’s footsteps in federal government.

ALTHOUGH I’M SURE Darin is breathing a sigh of relief upon his victory. Now that he’s no longer a state senator from Peoria, he no longer has to be involved in figuring out the mess that has become our state’s lack of a balanced budget.

Anytime that federal government comes across as being governed more sanely and logically than the state, you know you have problems!


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