Lahood defeats Flynn in IL-18 GOP primary

In the end, it wasn't even close.  The race for the Republican nomination to succeed disgraced former congressman Aaron Schock was won by the GOP establishment's choice, Darin LaHood.  His closest challenger, former Breitbart editor Michael Flynn, received only 29% of the vote, with LaHood getting nearly 70%.

Associated Press:

During the classic Republican primary race, LaHood portrayed himself as far more conservative than his father, former congressman and Cabinet member Ray LaHood. He received early backing from the state GOP, raised more than the other candidates and earned key endorsements, including from the National Rifle Association.

But Flynn, who was closely aligned with the late commentator Andrew Breitbart, rallied against the GOP "establishment," saying seats in Congress weren't meant to be handed down.

LaHood said he spent more time on the campaign trail talking about his record as a state senator and former prosecutor than his father. He said residents in the area were frustrated and looking for someone connected to the district.

"People feel there's a disconnect with what goes on in Washington, D.C.," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview before addressing supporters in Peoria. "They don't want someone who is going to make the same mistakes as the previous congressman."

Schock, once a rising GOP star, resigned in March amid intensifying questions about his use of campaign and taxpayer funds. Multiple news reports chronicled the redecoration of his congressional office in the style of the TV show "Downton Abbey," along with questions about his spending on concert tickets and trips for employees and mileage expenses.

A third Republican, Donald Rients, who works for State Farm, trailed in the balloting. On the Democratic side, high school teacher Robert Mellon won the party nomination over Springfield school board member Adam Lopez.

However, any Democrat will have a tough road in the sprawling GOP district that touches or includes 19 Illinois counties.

Mellon said he was ready for the challenge.

"I've always kind of associated myself with being the underdog," he said. "I always felt more of a kinship to David. I'm ready to go after Goliath."

Turnout was dismal for the special primary scheduled in peak summer vacation season, at roughly 11 percent across the district.

Flynn ran a spirited race but in the end was heavily outgunned by LaHood.  And voters apparently didn't buy Flynn's argument that LaHood was a closet RINO who would vote with the Democrats once he got to Washington.  Otherwise, the two men shared similar positions on almost all the major issues.

Clearly, LaHood's famous name – his father represented the district for 14 years – was the difference-maker.  He is expected to cruise to victory in the September 10 special election.

In the end, it wasn't even close.  The race for the Republican nomination to succeed disgraced former congressman Aaron Schock was won by the GOP establishment's choice, Darin LaHood.  His closest challenger, former Breitbart editor Michael Flynn, received only 29% of the vote, with LaHood getting nearly 70%.

Associated Press:

During the classic Republican primary race, LaHood portrayed himself as far more conservative than his father, former congressman and Cabinet member Ray LaHood. He received early backing from the state GOP, raised more than the other candidates and earned key endorsements, including from the National Rifle Association.

But Flynn, who was closely aligned with the late commentator Andrew Breitbart, rallied against the GOP "establishment," saying seats in Congress weren't meant to be handed down.

LaHood said he spent more time on the campaign trail talking about his record as a state senator and former prosecutor than his father. He said residents in the area were frustrated and looking for someone connected to the district.

"People feel there's a disconnect with what goes on in Washington, D.C.," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview before addressing supporters in Peoria. "They don't want someone who is going to make the same mistakes as the previous congressman."

Schock, once a rising GOP star, resigned in March amid intensifying questions about his use of campaign and taxpayer funds. Multiple news reports chronicled the redecoration of his congressional office in the style of the TV show "Downton Abbey," along with questions about his spending on concert tickets and trips for employees and mileage expenses.

A third Republican, Donald Rients, who works for State Farm, trailed in the balloting. On the Democratic side, high school teacher Robert Mellon won the party nomination over Springfield school board member Adam Lopez.

However, any Democrat will have a tough road in the sprawling GOP district that touches or includes 19 Illinois counties.

Mellon said he was ready for the challenge.

"I've always kind of associated myself with being the underdog," he said. "I always felt more of a kinship to David. I'm ready to go after Goliath."

Turnout was dismal for the special primary scheduled in peak summer vacation season, at roughly 11 percent across the district.

Flynn ran a spirited race but in the end was heavily outgunned by LaHood.  And voters apparently didn't buy Flynn's argument that LaHood was a closet RINO who would vote with the Democrats once he got to Washington.  Otherwise, the two men shared similar positions on almost all the major issues.

Clearly, LaHood's famous name – his father represented the district for 14 years – was the difference-maker.  He is expected to cruise to victory in the September 10 special election.