Ward Room
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The Next, Next Senator from Illinois: Aaron Schock

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The Next, Next Senator from Illinois: Aaron Schock
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If Alexi Giannoulias wins on Nov. 2, the 2016 Senate campaign will begin that very night at whichever Peoria hotel Rep. Aaron Schock is holding his victory party.

In December 2008, I spent a frantic day with Aaron Schock, riding in his Land Rover from a TV interview to his house with its never-used kitchen to the airport to lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant (all while he planned an inauguration party on his cell phone), and I can assure you that the only reason he is not running for the Senate this year is that he won’t turn 30 until next May 28.

This guy was elected to the school board when he was 19, to the state legislature when he was 23, and to the House of Representatives when he was 27. Only the U.S. Constitution has been able to put a brake on his upward mobility, with that clause requiring ambitious young bucks to get some seasoning before joining the World’s Greatest Deliberative body. By 2016, Schock will have eight years in Congress under his turquoise belt.

To be fair, Schock has matured: people who once called him “Doogie Howser” now compare him to Neil Patrick Harris’s latest character, Barney Stinson of "How I Met Your Mother."

In 2008, Schock hadn’t even been sworn in as a congressman yet, but when I asked him whether he was frustrated that he wouldn’t turn 30 until 2011, he didn’t even deny that he was looking past his next job.

“In politics,” he said, “you never know who’s going to die, retire or -- in Illinois -- get indicted.”

He was prescient. The next week, Rod Blagojevich was arrested.

So you could say Schock has been running for the Senate for the last two years. His photo spreads in Details and GQ have made him the only congressman whose celebrity transcends politics (just as Obama was one of the few senators).

In Giannoulias, though, he’ll have a target -- a freshman senator entering office under an ethical cloud. Giannoulias will be a slavish follower of the president, which means that in 2016, he’ll have to answer for any weariness the voters feel about the (presumably) outgoing Obama Administration. Also, Democrats won’t be able to use youth as an issue against Schock (not that that’s ever worked against him, obviously). At 35, he’ll be a year older than Giannoulias is now.

Ward Room’s prediction: if Giannoulias wins, Schock will make him a one-termer. Check back with me then, if the Internet is still around in 2016.

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