Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood raised more than $500,000 in five weeks since entering the special election to replace Republican Aaron Schock, according to figures provided first to CQ Roll Call.
LaHood, the son of former Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood, faces a Republican primary against Mike Flynn, an editor of the conservative website Breitbart News. LaHood touted the haul in an early show of strength, with the pre-primary fundraising reporting deadline still seven weeks away.
“I’m deeply humbled by the outpouring of support from conservative leaders and families throughout Central Illinois,” LaHood said in a statement. “We’re ready to fight for term limits, less debt, repealing ObamaCare, and ethics reform.”
The Peoria-based 18th District is heavily Republican territory. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried it with 61 percent in 2012.
The solidly Republican district is almost assured to be decided in the GOP primary, which Gov. Bruce Rauner set for July 7 . The race was called after Schock resigned from Congress in March amid allegations that he misused taxpayer funds.
LaHood is the clear front-runner in the contest. He is raising money at a fast clip thanks to his ties as a longtime state legislator, as well as his father's political connections.
He has the support of every Republican member of the Illinois congressional delegation , which hosted a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for LaHood in April.
Flynn, who announced his bid late last month, will attempt to tie LaHood to "the political party bosses in Washington and Springfield," according to a release from his campaign.
Illinois' 18th District is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
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