Updated Friday, 3:31 p.m. | Republican Darin LaHood will win a special election to replace former Rep. Aaron Schock , who resigned in March, The Associated Press projected Thursday. Updated results are available here .
LaHood — is a state senator and the son of former Rep. Ray LaHood, Schock’s predecessor before joining the Obama administration as Transportation secretary in 2009.
"I’m going to go to Washington to fight for a better future for the kids and grandchildren of Central and West Central Illinois. Its time for reform in Washington," he said in a statement after the election was called. "We must resolve our $18 trillion debt, create openness and transparency in government, fight for term limits, and repeal and replace ObamaCare."
LaHood's campaign manager Jim Reis said he would be sworn-in next Thursday, only a week after winning the election. Once he is, all 435 members of the House will be seated.
Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, congratulated LaHood in a statement Thursday night.
"Darin will stand up for taxpayers in Central & West Central Illinois by fighting to create jobs, balance the budget, and ensure transparency in government. Darin has a proven record of reform in Springfield, and he will use that experience to push for conservative reforms in Washington, D.C."
Schock resigned from the 18th District seat in March amid a federal investigation into whether he misused the funds for travel and to elaborately redecorate his official office in the theme of the PBS show “Downton Abbey.” He's currently in a battle with prosecutors over whether his records are privileged.
LaHood, with his family’s deep roots in the Republican establishment, scored high-profile endorsements from dozens of Illinois Republican elected officials and raised at least $1.2 million to fund his campaign. His Democratic challenger, high school history teacher and Army Reserve officer Rob Mellon, raised about $20,000.
On Sunday, LaHood scored the endorsement of the Springfield State Journal-Register , which hailed him as a Republican whose “legislative experience and his record working with Democrats on substantive issues give him the edge.”
Debates between LaHood and Mellon fell mostly along traditional party lines on issues such as the 2010 federal health care law, Social Security and campaign finance. On the Obama administration’s Iran deal, which was also raised in the race , LaHood said he would likely vote against it while Mellon said he “leans toward” supporting it.
In the July primary , LaHood tried to position himself as more conservative than his moderate father in his run against Breitbart Editor Mike Flynn. LaHood won with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
The 18th District is a deeply conservative one that Mitt Romney won by 23 points in 2012