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State Rep. Eyeing Bid Against Newbie Schilling

Clarification Appended

Rep.-elect Bobby Schilling has yet to take office, and already a second Democrat is thinking about opposing him in 2012. Outgoing state Rep. Mike Boland, who served with President Barack Obama in the state Legislature, said he likes Schilling’s pizza but will wait until next fall to decide whether to run against the Illinois Republican.

“Well, we’re going to be looking at a number of things, and that’s one option that we’re looking at down the road,” Boland told Roll Call on Friday.

Schilling, a pizzeria owner from Moline, upset two-term Rep. Phil Hare (D) in the heavily Democratic district this November and is likely to be one of Democrats’ top targets in 2012. Hare told Roll Call a couple weeks after the election that he’s “seriously” considering running again. 

Boland, 68, has represented part of the Quad Cities area in the state House for 16 years and in 2010 lost a primary bid for lieutenant governor. He finished with 7 percent of the vote among all lieutenant governor candidates and 13 percent of the vote among the Democratic candidates. Though he lost, Boland performed well in the western Illinois counties that make up the 17th district. His wife has served as state central committeewoman for the district for more than a decade. A former teacher, Boland is running for an unpaid position on the Black Hawk College Board of Trustees. That election will be held in April.

Boland said he probably wouldn’t run against Hare in a primary. He said he agrees with the Congressman on most issues, except possibly taxes.

“It would depend upon what support he garnered,” Boland said. “A lot of people here think that he would not win again. He would have probably good labor support again, and that would make a big difference as far as raising money and things like that.”

Schilling, on the other hand, “has good pizza, and I like the guy,” Boland said. “I think he’s probably a little naive as far as politics in general and Washington in general, and of course I would have disagreements with a lot of his stands.”

Those disagreements start with health care. Boland said he worked with Obama on health care legislation in the Illinois Legislature, serving as the House sponsor when Obama served as the Senate sponsor on a health care bill that ultimately failed. Schilling has said he wants to repeal Obama’s new health care law.

Boland called himself “a progressive populist” who is passionate about green energy and education issues but believes in keeping taxes low. He said he would keep a close watch on reapportionment, as the district needs to gain constituents and there’s a possibility they’ll come from Democratic areas around Peoria and Rockford.

Clarification: Dec. 13

The original version of this post did not include the Democratic primary vote for Boland.

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