U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, who’s mulling a 2014 Republican bid for governor, chastised a pair of potential rivals Thursday, saying state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard have “proven nothing more than they can lose an election.”
“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results,” said Schock, 31, a three-term congressman and former state lawmaker from Peoria who held forth on Illinois politics following a speech to the Civic Federation.
Still, Schock stopped short of declaring his own bid for governor, saying he believes any contender still has six months to announce their intentions while adding that he would not “box myself in” on such a time frame. That didn’t prevent Shock from decrying the Democratic one-party leadership of Illinois, as well as any potential bid for governor by Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the daughter of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago.
“Given the state of our state, why would we elect not only someone of the same party, continue to elect people of the same party, with the same policy and beliefs, but now, from the same family? To me, that’s crazy as a state,” said Schock, a member of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Schock also continued to voice his belief that another potential rival for the Republican nomination, wealthy Chicago venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, was behind TV and radio ads running in the Peoria market critical of Schock’s vote for a measure that ended the so-called fiscal cliff by boosting federal taxes on wealthier incomes.
Rauner has said he has nothing to do with the ads. But Rauner also told the State Journal-Register of Springfield that Schock was not “the right person or qualified to be governor — not even close.” Rauner did not respond Thursday to a request for comment on Schock’s remarks.
Schock’s comments reflected some of the first criticisms of a still-jelling race for a primary election that is more than a year away, and his decision to call out Dillard and Brady prompted both men to proffer some sharp responses.
Of Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican who already has announced his candidacy after narrowly losing the 2010 Republican governor primary to Brady, Schock said: “You’ve got one guy who’s been announced for two months. You can hear crickets.”
Schock questioned whether Brady or Dillard would be able to get the financial support needed to run again.
“At some point, you know, as a Republican in this state, I’ve watched cycle after cycle a lot of the same horses trot out on the track that have proven nothing more than they can lose an election,” he said.
Schock maintained his electability was a strong suit for returning Republicans to the governor’s mansion for the first time since disgraced former Gov. George Ryan was elected in 1998.
“When you look at voters, whether it be moderate women, whether it be young people, I would put my electoral ability next to any of the potential candidates when it comes to the demographics our party has not done well with — and we need to do well with if we’re going to win statewide,” he said.
Brady, the Bloomington Republican who lost the 2010 general election to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, said “the more the merrier” about a crowded primary. But noting the anti-Schock TV ads running in central Illinois, Brady said he’s hearing “more people starting to question whether (Schock) can re-run for Congress” than whether Schock will run for governor.
“I have built up a lot of credibility in this state,” Brady said, adding that a formal candidacy announcement would not come before May. “No question, as I travel around the state, hundreds of people have asked me to finish the job we started.”
Dillard, who has blamed his 2010 primary loss to Brady on a large number of entrants from DuPage County, said he believed it was “a little early for the heavy political posturing of either Mr. Rauner or Mr. Schock.” Dillard said he didn’t believe in “smoke-filled rooms, but the Republicans do need to pare down the field so we don’t waste our resources.”
“The focus should be on the Democrats, not on fellow Republicans,” said Dillard, who added that he was “happy with where I stand” at the early stage of race.
Schock is the subject of a pending House Ethics Committee investigation into a $25,000 contribution Schock solicited from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s political committee to a super PAC that backed Rep. Adam Kinzinger in the March primary over fellow Republican Rep. Don Manzullo.
The panel is expected to receive a report next week. Schock, who indicated he and Cantor had both contacted legal counsel prior to the transaction, said he was “confident” the probe will have a “favorable outcome.”