PEORIA, IL -- Congressman Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, slipped into his Congressional seat in the 18th District thanks to low voter turnout in a special election. Now he faces real opposition from Democrat Junius Rodriguez, a Eureka College history professor and author, who is a good speaker and knows the issues.
The November 8 election will determine the winner in this huge district, of 19 counties and a population of more than 710,000.
LaHood,a lawyer and former federal prosecutor, is the son of former 18th District congressman and US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.He's known as a moderate Republican.
Ray LaHood has refused to endorse controversial GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. But Darin LaHood has endorsed Trump. Has he made a huge mistake?
Darin LaHood has refused invitations to debate Rodriguez. But Rodriguez is an active campaigner, meeting people everywhere. On August 25 he met two dozen voters at a private house party where he addressed them and answered questions between personal handshakes.
Here is a recordings of his talk.
Here is a recording of the question and answer session.
Rodriguez said he decided to run for Congress as an example to his students. "I've tried to encourage out students to be engaged. I don't want to say I'm part of the problem."
He added, "I'm upset about the tone of politics. I know we can be better than what we have seen and witnessed."
ln addition, "this is a real strange year....Everything we think we know about politics in 2016 has proved to be wrong."
The 18th District has a history of moderate Republicans serving in Congress, he said. "We need to flip the district back to moderates."
"We need a Congressman who is not going to endorse the likes of Donald Trump," and who is not a "science denier," involved with "special interests," and takes "PAC money from outside the district," he said.
"We have to go back to where we were," back to bipartisanism, he said.
"We have a real opportunity to do something this time, " in the nine weeks before the election, he said. "Tell your friends."
In addition to his endorsement of Trump, LaHood has an interesting past -- problems as a federal prosecutor in Nevada. Here are the details.
-- Elaine Hopkins