Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday scheduled a special election for this summer to fill the vacancy caused by U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock's resignation, but he acknowledged the date likely would be pushed back to comply with federal voting law.
Illinois law requires a special election to be held within 115 days of the seat becoming vacant, so Rauner set the primary for June 8 and general election for July 24. However, because federal law demands more time for overseas ballots to be mailed, Rauner's office said the state law likely would be changed to comply.
Schock, a Republican, resigned and is facing a U.S. Justice Department investigation into his House office expenses, re-election campaign spending and relationships with donors.
State Sen. Darin LaHood, a Republican who is the son of former congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has emerged as the leading contender to replace Schock as two other potential candidates abandoned thoughts of seeking the seat formally vacated by Schock on Tuesday.
LaHood, 46, said he plans to campaign on his record as a former state and federal prosecutor, and on his record as a fiscal conservative who advocated for ethics reform. He has said he considers himself more conservative than his father, a Republican who served under a Democratic president and organized bipartisan retreats to foster cooperation.
"We tend to disagree sometimes," the Illinois legislator said. "I've got a conservative voting record here, a strong record in the senate, so I'll stand on that."
Local Democrats have said they are discussing possible candidates. Jackie Petty, vice chairman of the Peoria County Democratic Party, conceded it would be difficult to beat a strong Republican candidate.
Schock resigned with $3.3 million in his campaign funds and several options for spending it. Federal law used to allow officials leaving office to keep that money for themselves, but that's no longer allowed.
Schock may use the cash to pay any legal bills he's incurred amid recent questions about irregularities in his spending. He also could return the money to donors or give it to other candidates, the GOP or to charity. Or Schock could hold on to the money in case he tries to make a political comeback.